Latimer Ousts Bowman in NY-16 Victory for Democratic Party Moderates

The Associated Press called the race for George Latimer at 9:38 p.m. on Tuesday night.

Photo Alison Rodilosso
Published June 28, 2024 9:33 AM
5 min read

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This article was updated on June 26 at 1:16 p.m.

George Latimer won the highly charged NY-16 Congressional District primary race on Tuesday night, unseating Democratic incumbent Jamaal Bowman in a landslide. 

The Associated Press called the race at 9:38 p.m. with Latimer ahead by 10 points. By Wednesday morning, his lead over Bowman had widened to 17 points with 88 percent of the votes counted — dashing the progressive’s bid for a third term in Congress. 

The sizable defeat for Bowman, 48, was a stinging rebuke by Westchester voters.  

Latimer, 70, won with 63 percent of the vote in the Westchester County portion of the district, which also spans a section of the Bronx.  

“This is in fact the ‘many.’ This is the ‘many’ of Westchester and the Bronx,” Latimer, a moderate backed by the party establishment, told a crowd of supporters in White Plains after unofficially declaring victory. “Tonight we turn the page, and say we believe in the inclusion of everyone. You are included no matter what your demographic is. 

“The only way we rise is if we all rise together. I don’t want us to vilify anyone.”  

Bowman, however, was not sounding conciliatory after conceding defeat. 

Jamaal Bowman in Yonkers
Jamaal Bowman addresses supporters in downtown Yonkers following his defeat in the NY-16 congressional primary. Bowman pledged that he wasn’t “going anywhere.”
Photo Andi Hessekiel

“We should be outraged when a Super PAC of dark money can spend $20 million on a congressional race,” he said, remaining defiant while addressing his supporters. “We should be outraged when a so-called Democrat is aligning themselves with radical right-wing Republicans.”  

Democratic voters from Co-op City in the Bronx to Rye who made their way to the polls on Tuesday were deciding the nation’s most closely watched, and historically expensive, House primary. Turnout was expected to be high in a diverse district of affluent suburban communities and cities.  

Bowman’s harsh criticism of Israel after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that killed more than 1,200 Israeli civilians led Westchester Jewish leaders to help recruit Latimer, the two-term Westchester County executive, last fall. The district encompasses one of the largest Jewish populations in the country, and the voting bloc made its voice heard loud and clear on Tuesday.  

Pro-Israel political action committees made the candidates’ contrasting positions on the war in Gaza a centerpiece of the contest. Outside groups, including The American Israel Public Affaris Committee (AIPAC), invested a reported $23 million in the race – the most spent in a congressional primary on record – with that spending estimated to run 7 to 1 in favor of Latimer.   

Political analyst Taegan Goddard, the Rye-based publisher of the website Political Wire, said ignoring the district is what cost Bowman the race.  

“Bowman ultimately lost this race because his challenger did the hard work,” he said. “It’s why George Latimer has never lost a race in more than 30 years.” 

Danielle Tagger-Epstein, chairperson of the Rye City Democrats, said the message was clear that “we want elected officials to represent all of us” — 86 percent of Rye voters backed Latimer, a longtime city resident. 

“We want our leaders to show up,” she added. 

In a contentious primary defined by sharp divisions within the party and characterized by heavy mud-slinging, Bowman accused Latimer of racism and opposing abortion rights. Latimer criticized Bowman for running a “divisive and dishonest” campaign.  

George Latimer greets supporters in White Plains. The Westchester County executive was able to declare victory after the Associated Press called the race at 9:38 p.m.
Photo Alison Rodilosso

Latimer’s success was aided by a diverse set of political ties that he established as a retail politician over a decades-long career in the district that started in 1987. 

“You do not need a campaign ad to tell you who George Latimer is, you have seen who I am,” Latimer said.   

While watching the election night returns, he was joined by leaders of the Jewish community, groups of Rye Democrats, old friends from his days growing up in Mount Vernon, and labor unions.  

“This is a great day for the congressional district,” county lawmaker Catherine Parker told The Record. “We know that George will come through for us and may restore faith in the federal government among people who don’t have any.”  

In downtown Yonkers, the result was a sobering defeat for Bowman, the former middle school principal who rode a progressive social justice wave into Congress in 2020 by unseating longtime Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel. He now becomes the first member of the House’s progressive group, “The Squad,” to lose an election.   

Some of the progressive movement’s biggest names, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, visited the district to stump for Bowman in the final weeks of the campaign, sensing he was vulnerable. 

But their help wasn’t enough, as many of Bowman’s Westchester constituents turned on him.  

“Our opponents won this round at this time, at this place. But this will be a battle for the rest of our lives,” an upbeat Bowman told his supporters. “We are going to fight that battle for humanity and justice for the rest of our lives.”  

Bowman, who won 84 percent of the vote in the Bronx portion of the district, also apologized for “sometimes using foul language” — he had gone on a profanity-laced tirade at a South Bronx rally on Saturday. And he vowed that “Jamaal Bowman ain’t going nowhere.”   

Jamaal Bowman supporters
Bowman supporters console one another as the results show their candidate behind in the race.
Photo Andi Hessekiel

The large number of campaign mailers, TV ads, and get-out-the-vote rallies stimulated early voting for the race. There were 18,163 ballots cast during the early period for the Westchester portion of the 16th Congressional District, according to the county Board of Elections. That alone was equivalent to 45 percent of the total votes cast in Westchester and the Bronx in 2022, when Bowman faced an unsuccessful primary challenge from Parker, and county lawmaker Vedat Gashi.  

The number of mail-in ballots also grew significantly — 7,173 had been returned by Westchester voters, more than twice the total mailed back in 2022.  

The only independent poll in the race, a June 11 Emerson College Polling/PIX11/The Hill survey, proved to forecast Tuesday night’s outcome, giving Latimer a 17 percent lead over Bowman among likely voters.  

Latimer will next face Republican Miriam Flisser in November’s general election, and he is considered the prohibitive favorite. 

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