Schumer endorses Engel in competitive primary fight

Schumer endorses Engel in competitive primary fight
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' A renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs MORE (D-N.Y.) endorsed veteran Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelMany Democrats want John Bolton's testimony, but Pelosi stays mum China must be held accountable for its egregious actions against Hong Kong Voice of America not extending foreign journalists' visas: report 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 John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' 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.

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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-CortezIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Goya CEO dismisses critics for praise of Trump: 'I'm not apologizing' Trump tweets his support for Goya Foods amid boycott MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins Puerto Rico primary In politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Biden wins Louisiana primary MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' 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 PelosiBattle over reopening schools heats up Pelosi: Trump wearing a mask is 'an admission' that it can stop spread of coronavirus Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to reopening schools MORE (D-Calif.), Schumer, New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNew York City reports zero COVID-19 deaths for first time since pandemic hit Florida health officials agreed to receive remdesivir from New York before DeSantis dismissed offer Cuomo says Northeast will likely see rise in COVID-19 cases due to surge in other parts of country MORE (D), several members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden leads Trump in Florida, tied in Arizona and Texas: poll We haven't seen how low it can go There's a big blue wave coming 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.