New York Times endorses Engel primary challenger

New York Times endorses Engel primary challenger
© Facebook: Jamaal Bowman

The New York Times on Friday endorsed Democrat Jamaal Bowman, the progressive who is waging a primary challenge against 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse panel halts contempt proceedings against Pompeo after documents turned over Engel subpoenas US global media chief Michael Pack The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep MORE in New York’s 16th Congressional District.

The Times cited in an editorial announcing a slate of endorsements recent scandals over Engel’s absence from the district during the coronavirus pandemic and his remarks on a “hot mic” that he was only attending an event because he had a primary challenger. 

“The current representative — Eliot Engel — has been in Congress since 1989, and his connections to the district seem to have frayed,” the Times wrote. “He was criticized for not returning home even as the coronavirus raged through communities he represents, particularly New Rochelle.

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"When he did return for this race, he was caught on a hot mic pushing for a chance to speak during a protest rally, saying, ‘If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.’” 

The Times also praised Bowman, a former middle school principal, for his progressive policies to create jobs, make housing affordable, tackle climate change and more, saying he would reinvigorate voters in the district.

“Mr. Bowman helped found a public middle school in the Bronx, the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, and promises to work for all of the district, including sections he says have been neglected during Mr. Engel’s time in Congress,” The Times’s editorial board wrote.

“Mr. Bowman says he wants to see the United States adopt a kind of Marshall Plan for climate change, jobs, housing and education. ‘We need political imagination,’ he said. In a district that needs new energy, Mr. Bowman will bring it.” 

The endorsement is the latest blow for Engel, who has struggled to shake the hot mic scandal. In the ensuing weeks, Bowman has outraised him since April and garnered key endorsements from top progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHouse passes bill to avert shutdown Trump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' The Memo: Dems face balancing act on SCOTUS fight MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice Bernie Sanders warns of 'nightmare scenario' if Trump refuses election results Harris joins women's voter mobilization event also featuring Pelosi, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda MORE (I-Vt.).

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“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.

In an apparent attempt to blunt the fallout of possibly ceding The Times’s endorsement to Bowman, Engel said last week that he would not seek the support from the paper after it published a controversial op-ed by Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP brushes back charges of hypocrisy in Supreme Court fight Trump uses bin Laden raid to attack Biden Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE (R-Ark.) encouraging President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE to send military forces to cities grappling protests over the death of George Floyd. 

"I have decided not to seek the New York Times endorsement and I call on my opponents in this race to do the same,” Engel said in a statement. "No U.S. Senator should be calling out the military on the pages of the New York Times. And no progressive leader can morally accept the paper’s endorsement." 

Still, unseating Engel will be no easy feat for Bowman; the 16-term incumbent has flexed his political muscle from his perch as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, played a key role in the House’s impeachment investigation and has endorsements from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare House lawmakers reach deal to avert shutdown Centrist Democrats 'strongly considering' discharge petition on GOP PPP bill MORE (D-Calif.) and the Congressional Black Caucus.