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Squad Members Are Finding Themselves in Disarray Over Endorsements

We’re now just weeks away from the New York primaries for U.S. House races. Among the most vulnerable is a member of the Squad, Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York’s 16th Congressional District. He’s facing a primary challenge from Westchester County Executive George Latimer, with the Israel-Hamas conflict looking to play a major factor in the race. Not only does Latimer enjoy support from Jewish groups, with their polls showing him ahead, he now has the endorsement of former Rep. Mondaire Jones, who represented New York’s 17th Congressional District for a term before redistricting. Jones is now trying to get elected to Congress once more himself. 

Bowman’s fellow Squad member, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is also facing a primary challenge, though she is considered to be in a much safer race. AOC has not taken too kindly to the fellow Democrat supporting Latimer.

On Tuesday, AOC reposted scoop from The New York Times’ Nicholas Fandos about the Jones endorsement. In her quoted repost, she insisted that “Dem unity means supporting Bowman. That’s how we win in November.” For good measure, she also reposted her own post, and on Wednesday reposted UAW’s Shawn Fain. 

In addition to how it’s telling that AOC is seeking to potentially bully fellow Democrats into supporting Bowman, it’s also worth reminding that AOC, Bowman, and other Squad members won their seats by unseating Democratic incumbents in primary challenges they themselves launched. Further, whether it’s Latimer or Bowman who is the nominee, it’s a heavily Democratic district.

As The New York Times piece pointed out:

“Now, [Jones and Bowman] find themselves deeply at odds over the Israel-Hamas war, a break so sharp that Mr. Jones vowed on Monday to help defeat Mr. Bowman in the Democratic primary on June 25 and endorse his opponent, George Latimer.

It was the latest sign of how intensely the conflict in the Middle East has come to divide Democratic politics this election year. Mr. Latimer and Mr. Bowman have already spent months debating the conflict, and the race has been transformed by $10 million in outside spending by pro-Israel interest groups on Mr. Latimer’s behalf.

Mr. Jones said in an interview that he could not sit by while Mr. Bowman positioned himself as a leading critic of Israel, saying that his former ally had sown “pain and anxiety” among Jewish New Yorkers and had torn “at the fabric of our community and our civil righs coalition.”

Where this gets increasingly interesting is that AOC has campaigned for Jones before, as Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), who will face Jones in November, has highlighted. 

Lawler certainly took note of the endorsement, posting coverage from Semafor about Squad members in disarray over the endorsement, reminding that the primary takes place on June 25. Other members who have expressed outrage over Jones daring to endorse Latimer include Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), as well as Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO) and Summer Lee (D-PA), who are both members of the Squad. Lee managed to fend off a primary challenge in April, but Bush could very likely lose hers to DA Wesley Bell in August.

Posts from Lawler on Monday also highlighted the duplicitous nature of Jones, though, considering that he once supported Bowman. 

The Jones endorsement represents not merely how Squad members in disarray, but New York Democrats as a whole. While Jones previously represented the 17th Congressional District from 2021-2023, Democrats were plunged into chaos over the maps for the 2022 midterm elections, and now former Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) jumped at the chance to run in the 17th Congressional District, which was seen as racist by the moves’ critics, including by yet another fellow New York Democrat, Rep. Ritchie Torres of the 15th Congressional District. 

Jones lost his primary for the 10th Congressional District to now Rep. Dan Goldman. Maloney himself went on to lose in November 2022 to Lawler in what became a “Toss-Up” race, becoming the first chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to lose the general election since 1980. 

The endorsement could help Jones and Latimer both, as the report highlighted:

But Mr. Jones also may be considering his own political self-interest. After losing his House seat in 2022, he is now running to unseat Representative Mike Lawler, a Republican, in a swing district just to the north. Creating some distance from Mr. Bowman may help win over Jewish voters, as well as other moderate voters.

“As someone who is among the most popular Democrats in the Hudson Valley, it is my prerogative to play a dispositive role in ending this long, painful nightmare that we have been experiencing since Oct. 7,” Mr. Jones said. He planned to formally make the endorsement at an event on Tuesday.

For Mr. Latimer, the long-serving Westchester County executive, Mr. Jones’s support could provide an important shield as he attempts to fight off his opponent’s accusations of racism in the final weeks of an increasingly bitter contest in a district with large Black and Jewish populations.

Mr. Jones, who once worked under Mr. Latimer, stated firmly: “George Latimer is not a racist.”

Bringing it back to how a major issue in this race addresses the Israel-Hamas conflict, with Bowman himself making anti-Israel comments and using antisemitic tropes, that could be the Squad member’s downfall. Latimer has the endorsement from groups like American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI). 

StopAntisemitism has also spoken out against Bowman and in favor of Latimer before the June 25 primary. “There is nothing ‘progressive’ about being a hateful bigot. StopAntisemitism has featured Jamal Bowman as our ‘Antisemite of the Week’ and he richly deserves the dubious honor,” Liora Rez, the founder and executive director of StopAntisemitism, told Townhall in a statement. 

Lawler and Jones’ race remains a “Toss-Up,” while the race for New York’s 16th Congressional District is considered “Solid” or “Safe Democratic.”

https://townhall.com/tipsheet/rebeccadowns/2024/06/06/squad-members-are-finding-themselves-in-disarray-over-endorsements-n2640079