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Progressive challenger out-raises Engel in months leading up to runoff

Progressive challenger out-raises Engel in months leading up to runoff
© Greg Nash/Courtesy of the Jamaal Bowman Campaign

Jamaal Bowman outraised Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelProgressives target Manchin, Sinema with new PAC State Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment MORE (D-N.Y.) leading up to the June 23 primary in New York’s 16th Congressional District. 

Bowman, a former middle school principal, is waging a progressive challenge against the 16-term incumbent. He reported raising about $431,000 from April 1-June 3 and having $345,000 cash on hand. Engel reported raising $389,000 in the same time period and sitting on a beefier war chest of $826,000.

The reports come as national attention rises over the primary race in the district, which spans parts of the Bronx and Westchester County.

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Bowman represents Engel’s most serious primary challenger in years and has been on a fundraising spree. His campaign said in a memo to supporters Friday that it has raised more than $600,000 in June alone from 21,500 donations.

The former principal has also garnered high-profile endorsements, including from Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIntercept bureau chief: minimum wage was not 'high priority' for Biden in COVID-19 relief Murkowski never told White House she would oppose Tanden Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief MORE (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J vax rollout today; third woman accuses Cuomo 'Lucky': Inside Ocasio-Cortez's endorsement of Sanders Biden officials urge patience on immigration amid border surge MORE (D-N.Y.), who unseated a longtime incumbent in a neighboring district in 2018.

The surge in support for Bowman appears to be fueled at least in part by rising criticism of Engel, who has been panned for his absence from his district amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In addition to that criticism, last week Engel was heard on a “hot mic” saying at a local news conference in the Bronx that, “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care” about speaking at the event. 

“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,” Bowman's campaign manager Luke Hayes said in a statement last week announcing the campaign had raised more than $1 million since its launch.

Still, unseating Engel will be no easy feat. The 16-term incumbent has a high profile as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, played a key role in the House’s impeachment investigation and has endorsements from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden coronavirus relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority Some Republicans say proxy voting gives advantage to Democrats Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE (D-Calif.) and the Congressional Black Caucus. He’s also cited his seniority and work to secure health care and education funding for his district as evidence he could better represent the district than Bowman.

“I have been one of the real pains in the neck to Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE in Washington,” he said at a virtual debate last 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.”