George Latimer, Westchester County, New York’s executive, officially launched his Democratic primary challenge against left-wing “Squad” member Rep. Jamaal Bowman.
“These are difficult times. New Yorkers need a Congressmember who will listen to every voice, not just those who agree with him, & who will deliver on the issues that matter,” Latimer posted on social media Wednesday morning. “I’m running for Congress because I know we need new leadership – and I’m ready to deliver. Will you join our movement for real progressive results, not rhetoric?”
Latimer will face off against Bowman, who was first elected in 2020 to represent New York’s 16th Congressional District, which encompasses Westchester County’s southern suburban areas and parts of the Bronx. Latimer’s announcement follows him filing a statement of candidacy for Congress with the Federal Elections Commission on Monday.
The heavily-Democratic district, which is home to a large and influential Jewish community, has been mired in controversy in recent months over political stances and comments Bowman has made that are viewed as anti-Israel. Latimer visited Israel last week as part of a solidarity trip with other county and state lawmakers.
The New York congressman also faced controversy this fall after he pulled a fire alarm in the House of Representatives before lawmakers voted to avert a government shutdown. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count for triggering the fire alarm and was required to pay a $1,000 fine and serve three months’ probation.
Latimer is a well-known New York Democrat who has been involved in local politics since 1987, working his way up from positions such as city councilman in Rye, to New York state senator, to his current role as Westchester County executive. He is term-limited in his county role and will vacate the position in 2025.
“I’ve been a strong Democrat. We have done progressive things, from our transportation policy to our housing policy to Black maternal health policies, funding, wage theft – you name it, we’ve done it here,” Latimer told News 12 this week.
Across his three decades in politics, Latimer has never lost an election.
Bowman defeated powerful three-term incumbent Eliot Engel when the former middle school principal first secured his spot in the House, which was one of the biggest Democratic primary upsets of 2020. This election cycle, Bowman has garnered support from groups and allies such as New York’s Working Families Party and Justice Democrats, and fellow Squad member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., for his re-election.
Speculation has mounted for months that Latimer would throw his hat in the ring as some voters in the district sounded off that they want a congressman who supports Israel and champions the views of Jewish voters.
Bowman has come under fire for calling for a cease-fire at the onset of the Israel-Hamas war, which some critics say helped erode support for Israel as it battles the terrorist group. He also faced criticism for boycotting Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s speech to Congress this past summer, and for initially defending Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., when she came under fire for saying that Israel is a “racist state.”
In his campaign video, Latimer said, “Our congressman is making news for all the wrong reasons,” with a voiceover citing Bowman voting against resolutions condemning Hamas. The Westchester executive also took issue with Bowman allegedly hindering infrastructure development in the district.
Bowman has publicly condemned Hamas’ attack on Israel amid criticism of the Israeli government.
As some voters fumed over Bowman’s Israel comments, reports spread this summer that powerful pro-Israel groups were courting Latimer to launch a primary challenge in a bid to have a pro-Israel politician representing one of the largest Jewish communities in the nation. Pro-Israel group AIPAC is anticipated to be one of Latimer’s largest resources, Jewish Insider previously reported.
Bowman has since hit back at speculation of big donations from AIPAC flooding the campaign cycle in a Facebook ad that began running this week, according to Politico.
“Jamaal was one of the first representatives to support a cease-fire,” the Bowman campaign ad states. “But because of his calls for peace, AIPAC is flooding his district with nasty attack ads. Chip in to keep Jamaal in office, defending our values and pushing to save lives.”
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