Schumer endorses Engel in competitive primary fight

Schumer endorses Engel in competitive primary fight
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The omicron threat and Biden's plan to beat it Lawmakers take aim at 'Grinches' using bots to target consumers during holidays Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills MORE (D-N.Y.) endorsed veteran Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelLawmakers pay tribute to Colin Powell NYC snafu the latest flub from a broken elections agency Cynthia Nixon backs primary challenger to Rep. Carolyn Maloney 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 TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension 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-CortezHouse progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Boebert and Omar fight leaves GOP scrambling Dearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Pence-linked group launches 0K ad campaign in West Virginia praising Manchin Senators huddle on path forward for SALT deduction in spending bill MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSenate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo Restless progressives eye 2024 Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run 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 PelosiMcCarthy raised 0K after marathon speech Davis passes on bid for governor in Illinois, running for reelection to House Feehery: Why Democrats are now historically unpopular MORE (D-Calif.), Schumer, New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoTrump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension CNN suspends Chris Cuomo indefinitely Meghan McCain calls for CNN to fire Cuomo MORE (D), several members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCountering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future 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.