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Schumer endorses Engel in competitive primary fight

Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) endorsed veteran Rep. Eliot Engel (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 Trump, 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-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (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 Pelosi (D-Calif.), Schumer, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), several members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Hillary Clinton. 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. 

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Andrew Cuomo Bernie Sanders Bronx Chuck Schumer Democratic primary election Donald Trump election 2020 Eliot Engel Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Jamaal Bowman Nancy Pelosi New York
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