Moderate New York Democrats At Risk As Primary Results Trickle In

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Andrew Trunsky Elections Reporter
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Middle school principal Jamaal Bowman was leading incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel 60.9% to 35.6% in the Democratic primary for New York’s 16th congressional district Wednesday morning, according to the New York Times.

Nearly 36,000 votes had been tallied by 11 a.m. Wednesday, more than 12 hours after polls closed at 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Washington Post election tracker.

Though there are votes still to be counted, Bowman’s lead is troubling for establishment Democrats who rallied behind the the 16-term lawmaker.

“With so many absentee ballots outstanding and many still coming in, we know that the full results in the primary won’t be known for some time,” Engel said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with Democrats Rep. Maxine Waters, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others also endorsed Engel.

Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had come under growing criticism over frequent absences from his district and listing his Maryland home as his primary residence. In early June, he was widely rebuked for his perceived ambivalence towards his district when he was caught on a hot mic asking for speaking time at a Bronx press conference about the death of George Floyd, saying “if I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.”

Bowman, who ran to Engel’s left, was initially viewed as a long-shot candidate, but gained a national profile in the weeks leading up to the primary, according to The Washington Post. Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all endorsed him, and his campaign raised over $1 million dollars in the 24 hours after Engel’s hot mic comment. (RELATED: Hillary Clinton Endorses Democratic Rep After ‘If I Didn’t Have A Primary I Wouldn’t Care’ Hot Mic Comment)

The affluent, dense suburban district is solidly Democratic, according to the Cook Political Report, meaning that whomever wins the primary will likely be elected to Congress in November.

In New York’s 12th district on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney was locked in a tight race against progressive challenger Suraj Patel Wednesday. Of the approximately 38,000 votes tallied thus far, Maloney is leading 41.5% to 40%, accounting to fewer than 600 votes.

The race is a rematch of Patel’s primary challenge in 2018, where he lost to Maloney by 18%.

In New York’s 15th district, rated the bluest in the country by the Cook Political Report, New York City Councilman Richie Torres won the Democratic primary to succeed Rep. José Serrano, who is retiring after 15 terms. The progressive lawmaker, who if elected will be one of the first gay lawmakers of color, beat State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., a conservative, pro-life Democrat who opposes LGBTQ rights.

In New York’s 14th district, Ocasio-Cortez won her primary, beating her most notable challenger, moderate Democrat Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, 72.6% to 19.4%, according to the New York Times.

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