Engel primary challenger hits $1 million in donations
New York Democrat Jamaal Bowman, who is mounting a primary challenge to Rep. Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.) to represent the states 16th District, announced Friday his campaign has raised more than $1 million since its launch, a hefty haul for a primary challenger.
Bowman was buoyed after his campaign raised $264,644 in just three days after progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed him.
The fundraising news comes after Engel was caught on a hot mic saying, “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care,” after being told that not all lawmakers at an event to address the Monday night protests in New York might get a chance to speak.
Bowman was also boosted when Andom Ghebreghiorgis, another progressive in the primary race, suspended his campaign and endorsed Bowman, a former middle school principal.
“Jamaal Bowman is a better candidate, with a better message, and is more in touch with the district. Eliot Engel’s biggest advantage is money, and the fact that we’re now competitive with a 31-year incumbent when it comes to fundraising shows just how much trouble he is in,” said Bowman’s campaign manager Luke Hayes.
Hayes added that the campaign will use its beefed up war chest to expand its voter outreach and paid communications efforts.
Still, unseating Engel, a 16-term incumbent, will be no easy feat. Engel has a high-profile perch as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and played a key role in the House’s impeachment investigation. He’s also cited his seniority and work to secure health care and education funding for his district.
“I have been one of the real pains in the neck to Donald Trump in Washington,” he said at a virtual debate this week. “I’ve now had lots of seniority, being in Congress a long time, and I have the clout. I bring home the bacon. I bring home the money. I can do those kinds of things. That’s not something a freshman can do.”
Engel also has the backing of House heavyweights such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Gregory Meeks, head of the Queens Democratic Party, and the Congressional Black Caucus.
Bowman and Engel will face off in the House primary on June 23.
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