AIPAC super PAC pours millions into Jamaal Bowman opponent in NY race

AIPAC super PAC pours millions into Jamaal Bowman opponent in NY race
An AIPAC-affiliated political action committee has put $2 million into defeating progressive US House member Jamaal Bowman, a vocal critic of Israel.
3 min read
Washington, DC
18 May, 2024
Progressive US Congressman Jammal Bowman is considered among the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents this election cycle. [Brooke Anderson/TNA]

An AIPAC-affiliated political action committee (PAC) has invested $2 million to defeat progressive US House member Jamaal Bowman, a vocal critic of Israel.

The move in the hotly contested District 16, which includes parts of the Bronx and Westchester County, comes just over a month before the New York House primary.

The AIPAC super PAC the United Democracy Project has put $1 million into defeating Bowman and another $1 million into supporting his opponent, George Latimer, a Westchester County executive.

This closely watched race between Bowman and Latimer is considered one of the most vulnerable for an incumbent Squad member, making it a target for right-wing donors. Hamas's surprise attack on Israel and the subsequent war on Gaza have been a major fundraising boost for AIPAC and affiliated groups.

"I would say Bowman is one of the more vulnerable squad members," J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told The New Arab. He also noted that the residents in his district are generally not known to lean progressive, another reason Bowman can't take his re-election for granted.

The main concern for Bowman as the election approaches is the massive spending on his opponent, in some cases by Republican-affiliated donors. Latimer's funding has surpassed that of Bowman, an unusual feat for a candidate challenging an incumbent.

"It really catches my attention if the incumbent is outraised by virtue of being in office and on committees," said Coleman. 

If Bowman loses his race, it would be the first loss for the Squad, the self-identified group of progressive US Congress members that came to office in 2018 in the "blue wave" in response to the presidential election of Donald Trump and have since grown to more than twice their original group of four.

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A poll last month from the Democratic Majority for Israel, a group that has endorsed Latimer, showed Bowman trailing by double digits. Meanwhile, the Working Families Party, which has endorsed Bowman, released numbers showing that the majority of the voters in New York's District 16 support a ceasefire in Gaza.

Regardless of the accuracy of the numbers, what is clear is that Latimer is leading in fundraising and is gaining in name recognition.

The apparent threat of Latimer seemed to compel Bowman to agree to a debate Monday night, which was at times contentious, particularly with the incumbent accusing his opponent of accepting money from Republicans.

"George Latimer has taken money from AIPAC, who also supports Republican candidates," Bowman said. He also suggested that his opponent could be detrimental to women's reproductive rights, an accusation Latimer adamantly refuted. 

Latimer, for his part, took shots at his opponent, accusing Bowman of screaming on the Capitol steps, referring to a confrontation he'd had with Marjorie Taylor Greene.

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"When you work in a legislative body, you need to form coalitions with people. You need to have their respect. You need to talk to them as normal people. You can’t preach and scream at them on the steps of the Capitol. He’s ineffective as a congressman for this very reason that you’re just seeing," Latimer told Bowman on the debate stage.

"The angry Black man, the angry Black man," Bowman quickly responded. "It’s the southern strategy in the north."

The sparring between the two candidates drew national media attention as one of the latest races to highlight Israel and attract major AIPAC-affiliated funding.

With just over a month to go, Bowman faces a tough road ahead to keep his seat. In addition to fundraising, much of the race will be determined by a strategic ground game in the district.