Jamaal Bowman Primary Challenger Complains About N.Y. Rep.’s ‘Ethnic Advantage’

The Democratic primary in New York’s 16th Congressional District is getting ugly. The race between progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Westchester County Executive George Latimer is already the most expensive House primary ever, and now Latimer is facing accusations of using racist tactics against the incumbent congressman.

In a Thursday interview with Punchbowl News, Latimer said he expects Bowman to get at least 40 percent of the vote.”

“Does he have an obvious ethnic benefit? Yes,” Latimer said of Bowman, who is Black. “Will he get the people who are furthest to the left? Yes. But once you get beyond a couple of constituencies that he has strength in, he’s weak everywhere else.”

Earlier this week, the two men faced off in the final primary debate ahead of next week’s election. During the encounter, Bowman accused Latimer’s campaign of mailing out flyers with images of him that significantly darkened his complexion.

Looming over the heated battle between the two men is an effort by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to unseat progressive members of the House who have been critical of Israel’s military actions in Gaza. In March, AIPAC launched a $100 million effort — with the backing of prominent Republican donors and Trump allies — to target candidates of their choice. These include progressive Democrats like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — the only Palestinian-American member of Congress — and Bowman.

In New York’s 16th Congressional District, AIPAC has already spent more than $14 million on attack ads against Bowman through their PAC, United Democracy Project. In one instance, the group tapped Elisha Wiesel, the son of famed Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, for an ad. “Who are the antisemites engaged in falsely accusing Israel of genocide?” she asked. “Who stands up to oppose them? And who stands by silently? We know where Jamaal Bowman stands.”

Bowman addressed AIPAC’s involvement in the race directly during Tuesday’s debate. “AIPAC is spending more money in this primary than any PAC has ever spent in U.S. history,” he said. “Why? Because I’m an outspoken Black man. I fight against genocide in Gaza, and I fight for justice right here.”

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