Rep. Jamaal Bowman loses Democratic primary for New York House of Representatives to George Latimer

Progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., suffered a primary defeat Tuesday to a moderate challenger backed by pro-Israel groups, NBC News projected, following a bitter and costly race that exposed divisions of the party on the war in Gaza.

The race between Bowman and Westchester County Executive George Latimer in New York’s 16th District generated more ad spending — $25 million, according to ad tracking firm AdImpact — than any other primary in history . Nearly $15 million of that spending came from the United Democracy Project, a super PAC linked to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel lobby, which has supported Latimer.

With 84 percent of the vote Wednesday morning, Latimer led Bowman by a wide margin, 58.4 percent to 41.6 percent.

Speaking to a room full of his supporters Tuesday night, Bowman admitted defeat to his “naysayers,” likely a nod to outside groups spending big money, but he vowed that the broader fight for “humanity and justice” would continue.

“This race has never been about me and me alone. It has never been about this district and this district alone. It has always been about all of us,” Bowman said at the Grand Roosevelt Ballroom from Yonkers. “Now, our adversaries – not our adversaries – may have won this round, at this time, in this place. But this will be a battle for our humanity and our justice for the rest of our lives.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., during a news conference outside the Capitol on Nov. 13.File Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Bowman, 48, one of the most vocal critics of Israel in Congress, is the first Democratic incumbent to lose a primary this election cycle and the first member of the so-called “squad” of progressive lawmakers of color to be ousted from office since the group formed after the 2018 election. Other members of the squad, including Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Summer Lee, D-Pa., have been targeted but survived primary challenges.

A former Bronx middle school principal, Bowman took Washington by storm after unseating Rep. Eliot Engel, then chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and one of the most powerful Jewish lawmakers in Congress, in 2020.

Bowman won re-election two years later, but his opponents saw him as more vulnerable this cycle after committing a series of unforced errors.

Last fall, Bowman pleaded guilty to falsely setting off a fire alarm in a House building in the middle of a vote on a Republican Party bill aimed at averting a government shutdown. Bowman claimed it was an accident, but Republicans accused him of trying to interrupt the official business of the House, and voters repeatedly questioned him about the incident. the fire alarm that occurred during the election campaign.

Bowman also said that reports of sexual violence during the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on October 7 were “propaganda”; he walked back those comments after the United Nations said sexual assaults had occurred.

Latimer, 70, has been involved in local and state politics for more than 35 years. He first won election in New York to the Rye City Council in 1987, and he later won seats on the Westchester County Board of Legislators as well as the State Assembly and Senate.

As the Democratic candidate, Latimer will almost certainly be the next representative of New York’s 16th District, a diverse area north of Manhattan that includes parts of the Bronx and southern Westchester County. Joe Biden won the deeply blue district over Donald Trump by nearly 45 percentage points in 2020, according to Daily Kos Elections.

“Tonight we turn the page and say we believe in the inclusion of everyone in our representation,” Latimer said Tuesday evening, surrounded by supporters of his electoral party. “Whether you’re included, no matter your demographic. It doesn’t matter your age, the color of your skin, your religion, your gender identity, whether you’re right-handed or left-handed. Whether you’re a Mets fan or a Yankees fan. “

Several prominent personalities participated in the race throughout the race. Progressive heroes including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. — another member of the team — campaigned for Bowman, while Hillary Clinton, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.Y. .J., and former New York Governor David Paterson endorsed Latimer.

When former Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., a former Bowman ally and former member of the Congressional Black Caucus, also endorsed Latimer, citing Bowman’s criticism of Israel, progressives revolted. The Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Working Families Party of New York rescinded their support for Jones, who was running in a neighboring New York district with a large Jewish population.

Still, Jones won the Democratic nomination in the 17th District on Tuesday, setting up a showdown with vulnerable Republican Rep. Mike Lawler in the fall as Democrats try to reclaim a seat that flipped from blue to red in 2022.

Ocasio-Cortez easily won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th District.

New York’s other primary battles

Tuesday’s primaries also set up November’s matchups in a slew of competitive districts. New York is key to Democrats’ path to a majority in the House, with five Republicans representing districts won by Biden in 2020. Democrats need only a net gain of five seats to take control of the House .

There hasn’t been much primary drama in most battlegrounds, with the exception of New York’s 1st District. Former CNN anchor John Avlon has won the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Nick LaLota, NBC News projects. Avlon defeated Nancy Goroff, a college professor who ran unsuccessfully in 2020.

Democrats also picked Sen. John Mannion to take on Republican Rep. Brandon Williams in central New York’s 22nd District, which became more Democratic after the state’s congressional map was redrawn this year.

On other battlefields, the clashes have been practically defined for some time. GOP Rep. Anthony D’Esposito will face former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen in a rematch starting in 2022. GOP Rep. Marc Molinaro will also face a rematch with attorney Josh Riley.

Two Democrats running this year also learned Tuesday who their GOP opponents will be.

Rep. Pat Ryan will face Alison Esposito, a former New York City police officer who unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor in 2022. And Rep. Tom Suozzi, who won a special election to retake his old seat based on Long Island, will face former state Rep. Mike LiPetri.

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