Schumer endorses Engel in competitive primary fight

Schumer endorses Engel in competitive primary fight
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food Ron Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor MORE (D-N.Y.) endorsed veteran 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.) as he faces a stiff primary challenge from progressive Jamaal Bowman this month. 

“I have a longtime, close friendship with Eliot Engel and have worked with him on many issues. From taking on Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE, to standing up for women’s right to choose to expanding affordable health care, to fighting for civil and human rights, Eliot Engel has been a strong and effective fighter for the people of his district and all Americans — and I am proud to endorse him,” Schumer said in a statement to The Hill. 

The endorsement, which was first reported by Jewish Insider, comes after Schumer last week told reporters he had not backed Engel even though he was listed on the campaign’s website as an endorser. His name was later removed from Engel’s website after the exchange.


The endorsement also comes as Engel, a 16-term incumbent, tries to face down the toughest primary challenge of his career from Bowman, a middle school principal who’s received the backing of high-profile progressive groups and lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezProgressives won't oppose bill over limits on stimulus checks Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J vax rollout today; third woman accuses Cuomo MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSinema pushes back on criticism of her vote against minimum wage, implying that it's sexist Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Schumer insists Democrats unified after chaotic coronavirus debate MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike Philly city council calls on Biden to 'cancel all student loan debt' in first 100 days Hillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case MORE (D-Mass.).

A new poll also shows Engel trailing Bowman by 10 points just a week before the primary. Engel is also still grappling with criticism that he has not spent enough time in his district during the coronavirus pandemic.

Detractors only ramped up their attacks on Engel after he was caught on a “hot mic” saying at an event that he cared more about a speaking opportunity because he is facing a primary challenge.

Still, Engel has the backing of Democratic heavy hitters like Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump White House associate tied to Proud Boys before riot via cell phone data Greene sounds off on GOP after Hill story 'Bloody Sunday' to be commemorated for first time without John Lewis MORE (D-Calif.), Schumer, New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoAlbany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Another former Cuomo aide accuses him of harassment David Sirota: Media should 'apologize' for early coverage of Cuomo's pandemic handling MORE (D), several members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: China implicated in Microsoft breach | White House adds Big Tech critic | QAnon unfazed after false prediction Jill Biden redefines role of first lady QAnon supporters unfazed after another false prediction MORE. He also has a larger war chest than Bowman and has a high profile as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, allowing him to tell constituents he can serve as a powerful voice for them in the House.

“As chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot has protected our democracy from foreign attacks, and as a local leader Eliot improved mass transit and worked tirelessly with me after Hurricane Sandy to deliver the aid that enabled people in his district to recover and rebuild," Schumer said. 

"I know from being by his side, when it comes to working for the people of his district in the Bronx and Westchester, Eliot Engel gets the job done,” Schumer continued.