Former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman declared victory over longtime 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.) in the Democratic House primary in New York’s 16th District on Wednesday, even as tens of thousands of absentee ballots remain uncounted.
The primary race has not yet been officially called for Bowman, who currently leads Engel in the vote count by about 25 percentage points. But in a statement, Bowman asserted that, even with so much of the vote still out, it would be nearly impossible for Engel to bounce back.
“From the very beginning, we anchored our campaign in the fight for racial and economic justice. We spoke the truth – about the police, about systemic racism, about inequality – and it resonated in every part of the district,” Bowman said.
“Many doubted that we could overcome the power and money of a 31-year incumbent. But the results show that the people of NY-16 aren’t just ready for change – they’re demanding it.”
New York was among several states that expanded absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. Voters were allowed to mail ballots as late as election day, as long as they are received no later than June 30. That means that final results in the primary won’t likely be known for more than a week.
Still, if Bowman is successful in defeating Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, it would be a major blow to establishment Democrats in Washington who scrambled to back up the 16-term congressman in the days and weeks leading up to the primary.
A win for Bowman would also mark the second time in two years that a longtime Democratic incumbent from New York is ousted by a younger and more progressive primary challenger. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHouse progressives call on Biden to end all new fossil fuel permitting Schumer endorses democratic socialist India Walton in Buffalo mayor's race Toomey takes aim at Schumer's spending windfall for NYC public housing MORE (D-N.Y.) stunned the political world in 2018 when she unexpectedly took out former House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in the primary in New York’s 14th District.
Engel isn’t the only New York Democratic incumbent in danger of losing his seat. Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyHouse passes bill to expand workplace protections for nursing mothers House Oversight Democrats ask NFL for information from investigation into Washington Football Team New York City helicopter complaints skyrocket MORE (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, is running neck and neck in the vote count against her main primary challenger Suraj Patel in New York’s 12th Congressional Districts. Tens of thousands of votes still have not been counted in that race, though Maloney leads by less than 2 points.