Dec 4, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Rep. Jamaal Bowman gets Democratic primary challenger

Rep. Jamaal Bowman. Photo: Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images.

A prominent local Democrat on Monday filed to challenge Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) for his seat in 2024, potentially setting up one of the most closely watched Democratic primaries in the country.

Why it matters: Bowman is one of several members of the progressive "Squad" facing what will likely be a well-funded primary challenge driven at least in part by comments around the Israel-Hamas war.

Driving the news: George Latimer, the executive of Westchester County, filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday to run for New York's 16th district.

  • Latimer, 70, served as a city councilman and state legislator before defeating a Republican incumbent to become Westchester executive in 2017. He has never lost an election in three decades, according to The Journal News.

State of play: Latimer could pose a stiff challenge to Bowman, in no small part because Westchester makes up the bulk of the district.

  • A staunch supporter of Israel, he is also likely to receive considerable resources from the pro-Israel group AIPAC, which encouraged his entry into the race, according to Jewish Insider.
  • Bowman has been outspoken in his criticism of Israel and his support for a permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, a position only taken by around four dozen of the most left-leaning Democrats in Congress.
  • The district includes many of the large and affluent Jewish communities in the New York City suburbs.

Yes, but: Bowman has a formidable electoral record of his own.

  • A former middle school principal, he was first elected in 2020 after unseating longtime Rep. Eliot Engel, then chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in one of the biggest Democratic primary upsets of the cycle.

The big picture: Several other Squad members are facing or are poised to face spirited primary challenges this cycle, with AIPAC reportedly expected to spend as much as $100 million on a handful of races.

  • Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) is facing a challenge from local councilwoman Bhavani Patel.
  • Three Democrats have filed to challenge Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), including former local councilman Don Samuels, who came within two percentage points of unseating Omar in her primary last year.
  • AIPAC's efforts to recruit a challenger against Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) have drawn headlines after they reportedly offered $20 million in campaign funds to multiple Democrats running for U.S. Senate to run for Tlaib's seat instead.
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