Progressive Bowman ousts Engel in New York primary

Progressive Democrat Jamaal Bowman defeated longtime Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelNY Democratic chair blasts primary challenge against Maloney Carolyn Maloney will face Justice Democrats-backed primary challenger Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority MORE in New York's Democratic primary, pulling off a major anti-establishment win.

The win was widely anticipated after Bowman had built a double-digit lead on June 23, when the primary took place, though the counting of mailed-in ballots delayed the final results for more than three weeks.

Bowman's victory confirmation on Friday provides progressives a major boost after a mixed year of results, showcasing the strides made by the left in reshaping the Democratic Party. The district, New York’s 16th, is heavily Democratic and Bowman is almost certain to coast to victory in November.


It also marks another instance in which a senior lawmaker in the state is ousted in a primary after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezA proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US Biden angers Democrats by keeping Trump-era refugee cap Omar: 'Shameful' Biden reneging on refugee promise MORE (D-N.Y.) stunned the political establishment by defeating former Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in 2018. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring NY Democratic chair blasts primary challenge against Maloney Carolyn Maloney will face Justice Democrats-backed primary challenger MORE (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, was in a tight race in a primary pitting her against Suraj Patel.

Bowman had gained big momentum in polling and fundraising toward the end of the campaign amid criticism of Engel's absence from the district and the protests against racial injustice roiling the country.

A poll conducted by the progressive firm Data for Progress showed Bowman up 10 points over Engel. Bowman's campaign also announced the candidate raised $2 million ahead of the primary from more than 65,000 individual donors.

Additionally, he received the support of major progressive figures, including Ocasio-Cortez, as well as Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSirota: Biden has not fulfilled campaign promise of combating union-busting tactics Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Progressives put Democrats on defense MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPoll: 56 percent say wealth tax is part of solution to inequality Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Democrats reintroduce bill to block US from using nuclear weapons first MORE (D-Mass.).


Engel faced criticism from Bowman and other Democrats who said he was not often present in the district during much of the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has faced backlash for his foreign policy platforms. Engel voted for the Iraq War and opposed the Iran nuclear deal during the Obama administration.

The longtime congressman also took heat after he was captured on camera at an event against racial injustice pressing to speak while saying he wouldn't have cared had he not faced a primary challenge.

First elected to Congress in 1988, Engel has been a fixture in New York politics since the 1970s. In the final weeks before the primary, as Bowman gained momentum in the race, prominent Democratic leaders, including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden angers Democrats by keeping Trump-era refugee cap Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones calls on Breyer to retire Biden rebuffs Democrats, keeps refugee admissions at 15,000 MORE (D-Calif.) and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' MORE, rushed to Engel’s aid.  

But Bowman’s anti-establishment message and connection with the Black Lives Matter movement ultimately proved to be a winning strategy

Alexandra Rojas, the executive director of the progressive group Justice Democrats, which endorsed Bowman, touted him as one of the first candidates “swept into Congress by the movement in the streets right now.”


“This win proves that a Black man who survived poverty and police violence at 11 years old has the power to transform his community and country,” Rojas said. 

Engel is the fifth incumbent congressman to fall in a primary this year, following in the footsteps of fellow Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.) and three GOP members, Reps. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingRep. Gosar denounces 'white racism' after controversial appearance In Marjorie Taylor Greene, a glimpse of the future House votes to kick Greene off committees over embrace of conspiracy theories MORE (Iowa), Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanTrump the X-factor in Virginia governor race Ex-Trump press secretary criticized for stirring up QAnon on Twitter House GOP lawmaker unexpectedly shakes up Senate trial MORE (Va.) and Scott TiptonScott R. TiptonGosar's office denies he will appear on popular QAnon talk show Democrats press to bar lawmakers from carrying guns in the Capitol House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit MORE (Colo.). 

-- Updated at 12:12 p.m.