The Establishment has tried to define the grassroots efforts in New York this week to replace corporate Democrats beholden to Wall Street and their corporate donors with reformers as a twisted and desperate power grab by the left.
Politico asserts that these efforts on behalf on progressive primary candidates like Jamaal Bowman, Lauren Ashcraft, Robin Wilt, Mondaire Jones, Tomas Ramos and others have exposed party fissures, spurring Democratic establishment powerhouses such as Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Jim Clyburn to throw their weight behind status quo figures like themselves while agents of change like Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, AOC, Ayanna Pressley and virtually every credible progressive political group in America has gotten behind at least one or two of the progressive challengers.
Politico: “The clash between heavyweights like Clinton and Sanders has made New York’s 16th District race one of the most-watched primaries of the cycle– and one of the most telling.”
Blue America endorsed Jamaal Bowman almost a year ago, and long before any of the national heavyweights were aware of the contest and we decided to back him less because of Engels faults than because of what Jamaal himself has to offer– the primary reason we have also endorsed New York candidates Nate McMurray, Lauren Ashcraft, Robin Wilt, Mondaire Jones, Tomas Ramos and Dana Balter for Tuesday’s primary.
Engel isn’t the same kind of corrupt villain that Joe Crowley is, nor the same kind of villain that Dan Lipinski is. The best critique of him is that he’s absent and no longer a part of his constituency and that his interests are more conjoined with those of Benjamin Netanyahu than with the struggling working families of Westchester and the Bronx. But the reason for Jamaal’s traction– irregardless of the typical Beltway-centric version– is all about Jamaal. Engel is rated a gentleman’s “C” by Progressive Punch– not an “F” or even a “D.” But there is no reason that NY-16 shouldn’t be represented by someone with an “A,” which is exactly what Bowman’s platform adds up to.
Engel has a huge Establishment push working for him now– and a bipartisan one at that. Republicans know they can’t ever win in NY-16 so they’re supporting the less progressive contender, Eliot Engel. Immense sums of money have flooded into this race from both Democratic and Republican heavy donors.
Despite Engel’s big financial advantage the only public polling in the race shows Bowman leading with double digits. Asked last week if they would vote for Bowman or Engel, voters picked Bowman over Engel 41-31 with 27% undecided. When the undecided voters were asked who they are leaning towards, Bowman had an even bigger advantage: 40-18%.
Bordering on Jamaal’s district is the open Westchester/Rockland County district being vacated by longtime incumbent Nita Lowey. Seven Democrats are in contention– including one extreme right Blue Dog-type, state Senator David Carlucci, a bunch of rich people (one of whom, Adam Schleifer, a big PhRMA guy, has self-funded $4 million of his own into the race) and one viable progressive, Mondaire Jones, who Blue America has endorsed. A new poll of likely primary voters last week, shows Mondaire leading his closest rival by over 10 points.
Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones— not to mention Charles Booker, the Senate candidate in Kentucky, whose primary is also Tuesday– are the candidates who are getting the most attention in the progressive blogosphere right now and we are feeling increasingly confident about all three. But there’s another candidate we’re extremely excited about in New York too, Shan Chowdhury, the Democratic Socialist taking on the city’s most corrupt politician, Greg Meeks. Meeks has been trying to keep the primary under the radar– and that could be his downfall.
Shan is young, progressive and is being drastically outspent. If he wins, he’s going to be Congress’ most shake-it-up member. Despite the finance disparity and with just 3 days left, things have changed for Shan’s race. His campaign has worked, for 14 months, to expand the size of the electorate in New York’s 5th Congressional district. His campaign has sent over 750,000 texts, made over 100,000 phone calls and is running advertising on almost 10 different platforms in just the last month alone (print and digital). Chowdhury’s aggressive strategy to expand the electorate is a problem for Meeks. In NY-05, voter turnout is abysmal. Despite there being over half a million registered voters, Congressional primary turnout in 2016 was only 8,635. Meeks has never faced a real primary challenge and as a result his machine has been able to solidify a small base that turns out. That is why expanding the electorate has been an effective strategy for Shan. I just got word that, based upon internal numbers and absentee ballots tracked, Shaniyat is very likely going to upset Rep. Meeks and win Tuesday.
Despite being widely overlooked, due to a lack of institutional support, his chances of winning are higher than almost any other campaign in New York City. According to the Board of Elections, only 15,000 absentee ballots have been requested in the district. That is lower than any other district in the City. Taking into account Shan’s campaign’s incredible outreach and the work his team has done expanding the electorate, this means they are going into election day with better odds of winning then even the incumbent! If their internal numbers reinforce the reality that on June 23rd, they are going to shock the political world– in some ways louder than Bowman, Jones and Booker will.
Even being so close to election day, contributions are vital to Chowdhury’s ability to pull this off. They are going to need all the money they can get in order to properly execute their get out the vote strategy. They are in the middle of distributing 100,000 pieces of literature, flyers and posters between today and election day. They are also going to need the resources to send a broadcast election reminder text to every potential voter in the district.
Let me be clear, contributions today will give them a chance to secure this victory and change– perhaps forever– what is thought possible in electoral politics.
The Blue America 2020 congressional thermometer on the right is how you can contribute to Shan Chowdhury, Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones in one fell swoop. And, by the way, those who wonder how last minute money gets to the campaigns on time– Act Blue wires the contributions daily.