Socialist Bowman Defeats Top Pelosi Ally

Jamaal Bowman
Jamaal Bowman / Getty Images
July 17, 2020

Bronx middle school principal and self-described socialist Jamaal Bowman has officially defeated longtime Democratic congressman Eliot Engel (N.Y.), in a primary victory for the socialist wing of the Democratic Party.

The Associated Press called the race Friday after weeks of vote-counting. The primary occurred on June 23, and counting absentee and mail-in ballots delayed the result, although early returns indicated Bowman had a commanding lead.

Bowman received support from the far-left Justice Democrats and the Working Families Party, as well as from progressive lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.). Engel, who has served in Congress for more than 30 years, had the support of party leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), and Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.

Bowman moved to Engel's left on key issues, including support for defunding the police. He also advocated passing the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.

"I support the defunding of the police," Bowman said at a debate. "If we reinvest in jobs there won't be a need for as large of a police force as we have and there won't be a need for the militarization of the police. The whole country is rising up because we're tired of waiting."

Engel has been a stalwart supporter of Israel during his time in Congress, while Bowman expressed a more qualified support of the Jewish state. Bowman said he opposed the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement but has also criticized Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bowman will face a candidate from the Conservative Party in the general election for the 16th Congressional District since the Republican Party canceled its primary.