Progressive candidate for the United States Congress, Jamaal Bowman, has declared victory over his Democratic primary opponent, Elliot Engel, who has held office for over 30 years.
Bowman, a 44-year-old school principal from the Bronx, has been grabbing headlines in his quest to defeat Engel in New York’s 16th district. His campaign has been likened to that of former waitress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s remarkable victory over Joe Crowley, who held the seat for the 14th district for two decades, two years ago. She also amassed roughly 70% of her district’s vote in the latest primaries
Bowman has captured 60.7% of the vote, compared to Mr Engel’s 34.7%, according to preliminary figures, although the final count may not be completed for weeks due to coronavirus restrictions. Engel has yet to concede, according to BBC.
In New York, a hard left-leaning state, the democratic candidate winning the general election in Autumn is typically a forgone conclusion.
“I’m a Black man raised by a single mother in a housing project. That story doesn’t usually end in Congress,” Mr Bowman, 44, tweeted on Wednesday.
“But today, that 11-year-old boy beaten by police is about to be your Representative.
“I can’t wait to get to DC and cause problems for those maintaining the status quo.”
While Bowman was endorsed by progressive icons like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Ocasio-Cortez herself, Engel was endorsed by Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional Black Caucus. It exemplifies the ongoing shift in the Democratic Party, which is ushering in a new generation of progressive politicians, which started two years ago with Ocasio-Cortez, Ilan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, as well as Ro Khanna and Tulsi Gabbard before them.
Engel is also chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, meaning that a key standing committee will be seeing a face-lift and more may may follow. There are a number of elections for both the House and the Senate taking place this November, which could change the status quo and shake up American politics due to the rise to prominence of millennial candidates and voters.
Eliot Engel’s gravest mistake was when he admitted that he wouldn’t have bothered to speak at a Black Lives Matter protest in the wake of George Floyd’s death if he wasn’t facing a primary challenge.
“If I didn’t have a primary,” he said, “I wouldn’t care.”
Famous last words.
While progressive American voters will be lamenting the fact that Bernie Sanders will not be running for president in November and that status quo centrist candidate, Joe Biden, will be the man to challenge Donald Trump for office, they can feel confident about the increasing possibility that lower levels of government will be taking on a new face – one will speak to pressing political challenges such as climate change, police brutality and others that may well define our generation. Bowman’s victory would be indicative of a new wave of change.