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Ex-Middle School Principal Jamaal Bowman Leads 16-Term Congressional Incumbent Eliot Engel

Jamaal Bowman has declared victory in the race for Eliot Engel's Congressional seat in the 16th district.
Jamaal Bowman has declared victory in the race for Eliot Engel's Congressional seat in the 16th district. Photo Credit: Provided

Former middle school educator Jamaal Bowman is declaring victory over longtime incumbent Congressman Eliot Engel in the 16th District of New York.

Engel, a 31-year incumbent in the 16th District, which includes parts of the Bronx and Westchester County, was trailing Bowman by a tally of 61.7 percent versus 34.9 percent, according to the latest numbers released by officials.

Though the numbers are unofficial, and there are thousands of mail-in votes still to be tallied, it is believed that Bowman has built a large enough lead that Engel can’t catch up.

“From the very beginning, we anchored our campaign in the fight for racial and economic justice. We spoke the truth -- about the police, about systemic racism, about inequality -- and it resonated in every part of the district,” Bowman wrote in an email.

“Many doubted that we could overcome the power and money of a 31-year incumbent. But the results show that the people of NY-16 aren’t just ready for change - they’re demanding it. 

“We brought people together across race, across class, across religion, across gender, to fight for justice, to fight for equality, and to fight to create a country that works for all of us,” Bowman continued. “We didn’t let them divide us. And we did it all without accepting a dime from corporate PACs or lobbyists.”

In his victory speech, Bowman added: “The world has changed. Congress needs to change too. But if we can take on entrenched power and wealthy interests here in Westchester and the Bronx, then we can do it all across this country. 

“I’m a Black man who was raised by a single mother in a housing project. That story doesn’t usually end in Congress. But today, that 11-year old boy who was beaten by police is about to be your next Representative.  

In a statement, Engel’s office said that with so many ballots yet to be counted, it was premature to celebrate victory or concede defeat.

“With so many absentee ballots outstanding and many still coming in, we know that the full results of the primary won’t be known for some time,” his office said. “Congressman Engel is proud of his progressive record, and looks forward to the final tallies from the full Democratic electorate in the Bronx and Westchester.

“The bottom line for Congressman Engel is that every voter deserves to have their voice heard in our electoral system, and every primary ballot must be counted to ensure that happens,” he said. "That includes the absentee ballots that only reached voters in the last day - they must be counted in every race.”

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