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Ocasio-Cortez Ally Launches Primary Challenge Against Eliot Engel

Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal, announces his candidacy against 30-year Congressman Eliot Engel.
Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal, announces his candidacy against 30-year Congressman Eliot Engel. Video Credit: Jamaal Bowman
U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel was first elected to Congress in 1989. Photo Credit: Daily Voice file

Justice Democrats, the progressive group that backed U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's upset over incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley last year, is now supporting a 2020 primary challenge against another senior Democrat.

In a campaign to unseat 30-year U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, the group said it supports Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal and former teacher in the Bronx.

New York’s 16th Congressional District includes southern Westchester and part of the Bronx. 

Bowman, 42, announced his campaign via this video on Tuesday. He’s running on a political platform centered on investing in public schools, free college, Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and reforming the criminal justice system.

“It’s time to build a new America that taps into its unlimited potential, a new America that leverages the brilliance of children and people from diverse backgrounds. That’s the America I want to be a part of,” Bowman says in the video. 

Engel, 72, was first elected to the House in 1989. He is now chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, a top position for international issues in Congress. 

Bowman is the latest of three Democratic primary challengers. Engel easily defeated three Democrats in the 2018 primary with nearly 74 percent of the votes before winning unopposed by the Republican Party.

Bowman is a vocal advocate of the opt-out movement, which encourages third- through eighth-graders in New York to opt out of standardized testing, which Bowman once called “modern-day slavery.”

Earlier this month, 33-year-old activist Andom Ghebreghiorgis announced the start of his Congressional campaign for New York’s 16th distinct at a news conference in Mount Vernon. In February, another far-left challenger, New Rochelle native Kenny Belvin, 25, was the first to launch a primary race against Engel, as reported here. 

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