The progressive group that helped get New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez elected is supporting a political newcomer against veteran Jewish congressman Eliot Engel.
Justice Democrats announced that it would back Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal and former teacher in the Bronx, against Engel in the city’s 16th Congressional District.
Engel, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1989, is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He is facing three primary challengers, all to his left, according to BuzzFeed.
Bowman, according to the report, is running on a platform focused on investing in public schools, free college, Medicare for all, the Green New Deal and criminal justice reform.
I want to talk about a vision for a new America. It’s a country rooted in our humanity. A vision where everyone is included.
It's time for #NY16 to have a Democrat who will fight for jobs and education, not bombs and incarceration.
— Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) June 18, 2019
“Our grassroots movement shocked the country last year with AOC’s upset victory, and we are prepared to do it again in New York’s 16th District,” said Alexandra Rojas, the executive director of Justice Democrats. “It’s time to usher in a new generation of progressive leadership into the Democratic Party.”
Engel is close to the mainstream pro-Israel community and has initiated a number of pro-Israel bills over the years.
On Sunday, he said at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York that support for Israel should not be politicized.
“We have to make sure that there is a strong majority to help the State of Israel,” he said. “I don’t think it helps to make it a political football. We have 33 Jewish congressmen, and 31 of them are Democrats.”
In June 2018 progressive Democrat Ocasio-Cortez, who has called Israel’s killing of violent Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border a “massacre” and has suggested cutting US aid to Israel, scored a major upset over incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley.
Ocasio-Cortez, just 28 at the time, won the election by a margin of 58-42 percent, toppling the 56-year-old lawmaker who was viewed as the successor to Rep. Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the US House of Representatives.