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Westchester Democratic Congressional Primary Draws National Attention

As the New York Democratic primary election draws closer, the race for the state's 16th District seat between Westchester County Executive George Latimer and incumbent Jamaal Bowman is attracting nationwide attention and exposing divisions within the party. 

Westchester County Executive George Latimer (left) has announced a Democratic Congressional primary challenge against NY-16 Rep. Jamaal Bowman. 

Westchester County Executive George Latimer (left) has announced a Democratic Congressional primary challenge against NY-16 Rep. Jamaal Bowman. 

Photo Credit: Facebook via George Latimer/X via RepBowman

Poll
Who will you vote for in the primary on Tuesday, June 25?
Current Results

Who will you vote for in the primary on Tuesday, June 25?

  • Jamal Bowman
    23%
  • George Latimer
    60%
  • Neither/Not a Registered Democrat
    17%

The race between Latimer, age 70, and Bowman, age 48, is exposing tensions within the Democratic Party that will likely come to a head as residents within the 16th District cast their votes in the primary election on Tuesday, June 25, primarily centered on the ongoing conflict between Gaza and Israel. 

The 16th district is made up of the southern part of Westchester, including the suburban cities of White Plains, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, New Rochelle, and Rye, and a small portion of the northern Bronx. 

The high-profile nature of the race was highlighted in a new report by The Washington Post, which centered on the opposing sides of the Israel-Gaza conflict represented by each candidate. 

According to the outlet, Bowman has been one of the loudest voices in Congress critiquing Israel's armed conflict against Gaza following the Hamas terrorist attacks against the country on Saturday, Oct. 7, and has been calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. 

Meanwhile, Latimer has expressed more support for Israel and visited the country weeks after the attack, but has eventually also come around to supporting an immediate cease-fire of at least six weeks. 

The tension between the two opposing camps has been felt in Democratic primaries across the country but is especially apparent in the 16th District, which has one of the country's densest populations of Jewish residents in Westchester, The Washington Post reported. 

Because of Latimer's more favorable position on Israel, several powerful pro-Israel groups have announced their support for his campaign, including AIPAC, which donated around $400,000 between December and February, according to the outlet. 

Additionally, a voter education center that was opened by Jewish groups in New Rochelle in late January also led an effort to recruit thousands of Republican and Independent voters to switch to the Democratic party so they could vote in the primary between Latimer and Bowman, which was an effort to boost support for the former, according to a report by CBS News. 

However, Latimer has also garnered criticism from Bowman's allies, some of whom have called him "Genocide George" and doubted his support for Muslims, The Washington Post reported. 

In a post on X on Monday, April 1, Bowman again reinforced his support for a ceasefire. 

"The people want peace and that shouldn’t be controversial," Bowman wrote, adding, "I, and the rest of NY-16, have been calling for a ceasefire for months! We need an end to Netanyahu’s violent reign. We need a permanent ceasefire now!" 

Latimer also addressed Israel in a post on X on Monday, urging Democratic New York voters to support Biden in the state's Presidential Primary regardless of their position on the conflict. 

"Tomorrow is the NY Presidential Primary and some suggested Democrats withhold support for @POTUS due to his commitment to Israel. Please do not do this," Latimer wrote, continuing, "We cannot pave the way for Donald Trump to return to office. Let's be unified in this moment in history." 

According to a Gallup poll from Wednesday, March 27, only 18 percent of US Democrats currently support Israeli military action in Gaza, down from 36 percent in November 2023. The poll also indicated Biden has suffered a loss of support for his handling of the situation in the Middle East. 

These poll results indicate a growing anger at Israel's military campaign within the Democratic party, according to The Washington Post. 

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