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Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton formally endorsed Rep. Eliot Engel (D) on Monday as the 16-term congressman faces a tough primary challenge from progressive Jamaal Bowman in New York’s 16th District.

“I have worked with Eliot Engel as first lady, as senator from New York, and as secretary of state,” Clinton said in a statement to The New York Times. “Every step of the way, his number-one priority has always remained the same: delivering for his constituents.”

The ongoing endorsements in the race illustrate the deep divide between establishment and progressive Democrats. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Clinton’s 2016 primary opponent, endorsed Bowman, a former middle school principal, last week. 

“Jamaal understands that low-income families are locked out of opportunity and a decent life due to a system that is rigged to benefit the wealthy,” Sanders said in a statement. “In Congress he will lead the fight for investing in our public schools, ending mass incarceration, and addressing the housing crisis. He is someone we can trust to be a powerful advocate for a progressive agenda in Congress.”

Bowman has also received progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) endorsement. Ocasio-Cortez defeated longtime incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a surprise primary victory in 2018. 

Engel faces what could be the most competitive primary challenge of his career in Bowman, drawing a number of comparisons between Ocasio-Cortez’s own fight against Crowley. 

Last cycle, Engel defeated his primary challenger by 57 points before coasting to a 16th term in an uncontested general election.

However, Bowman has consolidated support from the progressive field and raised more than $200,000 in a two-day period earlier this month. 

Engel has faced scrutiny from progressives over his absence from the District amid the coronavirus pandemic as well as his foreign policy positions as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 

New York’s primary is scheduled for June 23. 

Tags 2020 2020 election 2020 primaries Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Bernie Sanders Eliot Engel Hillary Clinton Jamaal Bowman Joe Crowley

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