‘Squad’ Member Jamaal Bowman Faces Dire Reelection Threat From Democratic Voter Registration Drive by Jewish Constituents

Mr. Bowman’s hold on power has been threatened by constituent pushback against his anti-Israel activities.

Alex Wong/Getty Images
U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on February 14, 2024 at Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

In the latest setback for Representative Jamaal Bowman, a voter drive by Jewish constituents that seeks to have Republican and Independent voters register as Democrats, has exceeded expectations, amounting to nearly a tenth of the last primary’s total vote count.

Election officials on Monday announced that 2,300 voters in New York’s 16th Congressional district had changed their registration to that of the Democratic Party. The amount is roughly equivalent to 7 percent of the total number of voters in the last Democratic primary in the district in 2022, when Rep. Bowman, a former middle school principal, secured a victory with 57 percent of the vote. 

In that primary, Mr. Bowman received roughly 17 thousand votes. A slew of competitors split the remaining 13 thousand.  

This year’s primary is scheduled to take place on June 25, and Mr. Bowman, a member of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s far-left “squad,” is facing a formidable challenge from the Westchester County Executive, George Latimer. Mr. Bowman’s hold on power has been threatened by constituent pushback to his anti-Israel activities. His district, which includes the southern part of affluent Westchester County and a sliver of the Bronx, New York City’s poorest borough, has a large Jewish population.

According to a local news outlet, Lohud, the influx of Democrat voters was spurred by a campaign by local synagogues. The move was spearheaded by the Orthodox Union’s advocacy organization, Teach Coalition, through its affiliate, Teach Action Fund. Teach Action, which has historically lobbied for Jewish schools, or yeshivas, lobbied constituents to change their registration to the Democratic Party on behalf of an organization created for voter registration, Westchester Unites. 

Surveillance video shows Representative Jamaal Bowman illegally pulling a fire alarm on Capitol Hill. Capitol Police

Westchester Unites is estimated to be largely responsible for garnering a large portion of the 1,900 reregistrations after it began its push on January 25, when Mr. Latimer announced his bid for Congress. 

In a statement to the Sun, a spokeswoman for the Toach Coalition wrote that “Westchester Unites, a campaign of Teach Action Fund, has successfully re-enrolled over 1,660 voters in New York’s 16th Congressional District ahead of the Feb. 14 deadline, representing 13% of their targeted group – a figure that outpaces similar efforts, signaling sky-high interest in the primary among Jewish voters.”

The spokeswoman added that the campaign, “Westchester Unites, which was launched just over two weeks ago, conducted a large-scale campaign in the district, delivered 77,629 pieces through seven rounds of mail, sent 24,876 text messages, and garnered 324,000 video views. The campaign also mobilized a cohort of hundreds of volunteers who conducted community outreach, making 6,473 calls and knocking on 1,178 doors.”

Simon Bernstein, a Westchester Unites volunteer from New Rochelle, explained, “As a member of the Jewish community, volunteering as a part of this effort was a no-brainer for me. We need elected officials who will stand up for our concerns and well-being, especially with the current alarming levels of antisemitism in this country. I am so proud of the work we have done to make sure Jewish voters here have a say in this election, and I am honored to have been a part of it.”

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

According to Lohud, of the 2,300 flipped voters, more than 1,400 had no party affiliation. Another 840 were registered as Republicans, who are likely shifting their vote temporarily in order to vote against the embattled Congressman in the Democratic primary. 

The strong interest by the constituents of New York’s 16th District in the Democratic primary comes in the wake of a series of setbacks and embarrassments for Rep. Bowman.

On Wednesday, the 47-year-old congressman was lambasted by a former New York City fire commissioner who oversaw the 9/11 response, Thomas von Essen. Mr. von Essen called Mr. Bowman an “imbecile” for penning and posting a 9/11 “truther” poem on a blog that the Daily Beast uncovered. 

“I’ve been dealing with these imbeciles for over 20 years now, where I’ve been accused of planting bombs every 10 floors in the Trade Center and things like that,” said Mr. von Essen, who was the FDNY commissioner from April 1996 to December 2001.

Representative Jamaal Bowman (r) is pictured with two other ‘Squad’ members, Representatives Rashida Tlaib (l) and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (c). Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The poem, which Atlantic writer Graeme Wood speculated might allow Mr. Bowman to take the prize from President Carter for being “literally the worst poet in the United States,” read in part, “Allegedly/Two other planes/The Pentagon/Pennsylvania/Hijacked by terrorist/Minimal damage done/Minimal debris found/Hmmm…” Bowman continued. “We blamed Osama/Went to war in Iraq/Captured Saddam/Killed him. Bin Laden is Afghan/So we went to war there too.”

Mr. Bowman also continues to deal with the fallout from an embarrassing incident on September 30 of last year, when he illegally pulled a fire alarm on Capitol Hill.

Earlier this month,  the Office of Congressional Ethics found that Mr. Bowman’s excuse for pulling the fire alarm prior to an emergency caucus meeting – that he was confused – was “less than credible or otherwise misleading.” The OCE did not pursue the investigation further, given that 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.

But it is Mr. Bowan’s position on Israel which has infuriated local constituents and created a more dire threat to his reelection. 

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) leaves the U.S. Capitol Building on May 23, 2023 at Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Though once viewed as being a more moderate voice on Israel within the progressive camp, Rep. Bowman has in recent months pivoted to being among the most critical of the Jewish State on Capitol Hill. The former school principal has become a mainstay far-left at anti-Zionist demonstrations –  including those sponsored by virulently anti-Israel groups such as  IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace –  alongside Reps. Tlaib and Bush. 

His hostile stance toward 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 its 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 Rep. Bowman on a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories in 2021, to the dismay of anti-Israel activists at the time.

The New York Sun

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