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 EngelChina must be held accountable for its egregious actions against Hong Kong Voice of America not extending foreign journalists' visas: report New York candidates left on hold as primary results trickle in 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 SandersBiden wins Louisiana primary Oh, Canada: Should the US emulate Canada's National Health Service? Trump glosses over virus surge during Florida trip MORE (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezGoya CEO dismisses critics for praise of Trump: 'I'm not apologizing' Trump tweets his support for Goya Foods amid boycott Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs 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 PelosiAs coronavirus surges, Trump tries to dismantle healthcare for millions Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Pelosi plans legislation to limit pardons, commutations after Roger Stone move 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 John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' 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.”