Facing Primary Threat, Congressman Jamaal Bowman Doubles Down, Enters Joint Fundraising Pact With Anti-Israel ‘Squad’ Member Rashida Tlaib

The joint fundraising committee may be an attempt to shore up the campaign coffers of Mr. Bowman, who is struggling to keep pace with his primary challenger, George Latimer, who’s made an issue of Mr. Bowman’s opposition to Israel.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for We The 45 Million
Embattled Democratic Representative Jamaal Bowman has entered into a fundraising pact with fellow progressive 'Squad' member Rashida Tlaib. Both members of Congress are outspoken opponents of Israel's conduct of the war in Gaza. Jemal Countess/Getty Images for We The 45 Million

Congressman Jamaal Bowman, the embattled member of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s far-left “Squad” who’s come under fire for anti-Israel comments and for illegally pulling a fire alarm on Capitol Hill, has filed with the Federal Election Committee for a joint fundraising committee with the Michigan Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, who was recently censured by the House for what her detractors call antisemitic rhetoric. 

The committee lists Bronxville, an extremely wealthy enclave within Mr. Bowman’s district, as its address. Bronxville is located some 20 miles north of Manhattan in Westchester County which, alongside a sliver of the Bronx, represents the Congressman’s diverse constituency, one that includes heavily Jewish towns such as Scarsdale. 

The filing with the FEC, dated February 14, lists a progressive activist and failed Congressional candidate, Amy Vilela, as the custodian and treasurer of the funds. Ms. Vilela is a former co-chair of the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign for the state of Nevada. 

Ms. Vilela has also been open about her animosity towards Israel. During her Congressional campaign, the former accountant endorsed the deeply anti-Israel “Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement” and advocated for the elimination of laws that punish businesses for boycotting Israel, the Jewish Insider reported at the time. 

Democratic Representative Jamaal Bowman illegally pulls a fire alarm on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021. He was censured by the House and also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Capitol Police

Mr. Bowman’s well-funded opponent in the June 25 Democratic primary for New York’s 16th Congressional District, George Latimer, the former Westchester County Executive, for his part was not silent about the joint fundraising committee and lambasted the move on X, formerly Twitter. 

In a statement to the New York Post, a spokesman for Mr. Latimer wrote that, “The incumbent, with his weak in-district numbers, has now resorted to working hand in hand with Rep. Tlaib, who refuses to condemn the rape of Israeli women and is actively working to defeat President Biden in her home state of Michigan. That says it all.” The congresswoman from Michigan was the only member of Congress who did not vote for a resolution condemning Hamas for the sexual violence perpetrated on October 7. 

Over the weekend, Ms. Tlaib, who represents a district with a large number of Arab-American voters, urged voters to cast their ballots for “uncommitted,” rather than support Mr. Biden, in Michigan’s Democratic primary. That could bode ill for Mr. Biden’s general election prospects in Michigan, a battleground state where turnout will be key. Mr. Biden recently sent one of his top foreign policy aides, Jonathan Finer, to Dearborn, Michigan, in Ms. Tlaib’s district, to apologize to Arab-American leaders for his administration’s failure to sufficiently acknowledge Palestinian suffering during the Israel-Hamas war.

Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar and Congressman Jamaal Bowman, members of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s far-left ‘Squad’, take questions during a news conference about Islamophobia on Capitol Hill on November 30, 2021 at Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Some political observers speculate that the joint fundraising committee is an attempt to shore up the campaign coffers of Mr. Bowman, who is struggling to keep pace with Mr. Latimer. Mr. Bowman raised only $725,000 in campaign funds in the last quarter, while Ms. Tlaib has raised more than $3.7 million. Ms. Tlaib does not currently have a primary challenger and is expected to cruise to reelection in the fall. 

A local Westchester County outlet, Lohud, reported earlier in February that Mr. Latimer had raised nearly double what the incumbent had in the weeks following the county executive launching his campaign on December 6. Mr. Bowman has attributed this fundraising gap to “AIPAC and their Republican megadonors,” according to a fundraising link on the Democratic donor site, ActBlue. The America Israel Public Affairs Committee, a familiar bogeyman for the anti-Israel left, is expected to spend $100 million this election cycle to defeat anti-Israel Democrats. Yet despite Mr. Bowman’s criticism of Mr. Latimer’s backers, the incumbent has been overwhelmingly reliant on funds from outside his district. Seventy three percent of itemised donations for Mr. Latimer come from the 16th District, while only nine percent of individual donations to Mr. Bowman’s campaign came from the district, according to a report by USA Today Network. 

A recent Los Angeles campaign fundraiser for Mr. Bowman and another “Squad” member, far-left Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri, recently came under scrutiny after a report by the Free Beacon detailed the swanky event’s attendance list. Among those at the event were anti-Israel activists who have endorsed Palestinian militant groups and are supporters of the antisemitic Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, the outlet reported.  

Former Westchester County Executive George Latimer is making a strong primary challenge against Congressman Jamaal Bowman, and is significantly out raising him. Courtesy George Latimer

Though once viewed as being a more moderate voice on Israel within the Progressive camp, Mr. Bowman has in recent months pivoted to being among the most critical of the Jewish State on Capitol Hill. The former school principal has been a mainstay at far-left anti-Israel protests and has featured prominently at anti-Zionist demonstrations — sponsored by groups such as IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace — alongside Congresswomen Tlaib and Bush. 

His hostile stance on Israel in the wake of October 7 has lost him key endorsements, even from former allies. In January, the Sun reported that the progressive Jewish group, J Street, withdrew their support of Mr. Bowman after the Congressman fawned over the anti-Israel academic, Norman Finkelstein, who had praised October 7 as an act of “heroic resistance.” The group had taken Mr. Bowman on a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories in 2021, to the dismay of anti-Israel activists at the time. 

J Street’s decision occurred days after the Office of Congressional Ethics had found that the Congressman’s excuse for pulling a Capitol Hill fire alarm prior to an emergency caucus meeting was “less than credible or otherwise misleading.” The OCE did not pursue the investigation further, given the 47-year-old congressman had already been censured on December 8 by the House for his actions. He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

Like Mr. Bowman, Ms. Bush is facing a tough primary. A recent poll published over the weekend showed her well behind her primary challenger, the  St. Louis prosecutor and former judge, Wesley Bell. Mr. Bell’s momentum has forced a change of tune for the Squad member who had initially dismissed the challenger when he announced his bid in October.

Congressman Jamaal Bowman was a proponent of the ‘Green New Deal,’ a signature legislative proposal from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s far-left ‘Squad’. Alex Wong/Getty Images

At the time, a campaign manager for Ms. Bush quipped that “everyone has a right to run for whichever office they see fit,” in a statement to Politico. Now, however, Ms. Bush is pleading with her supporters for funds to assist in “attacking back” against her challenger. 

As with Mr. Bowman, Ms. Bush’s difficulty has been partly attributed to her unrelenting attacks on Israel in the wake of October 7.  Referring to the polling results, a political analyst at Jewish Insider, Josh Kraushaar, noted that, “the data is yet another example of why pandering to the left-wing radicalism on Israel in the Dem party is a counterproductive strategy for Biden.”

The polling data of likely Democratic voters was collected by Remington Research Group and showed Ms. Bush trailing her challenger by double digits. 

Though Mr. Bell has made his campaign a focus on decidedly local issues, he has not shied away from repudiating the former activist’s position on the Jewish state.

The New York Sun

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