George Latimer formally announces Congressional primary bid against Jamaal Bowman

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Saying he prefers results over rhetoric, Westchester County Executive George Latimer on Wednesday officially announced his candidacy for Congress, setting out to wrest the Democratic nomination for the 16th Congressional District from Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-Yonkers.

He did so in a campaign video, in which he highlighted his roots in Mount Vernon, his record on taxes and crime, and his support for marriage equality and abortion rights.

In the video, he criticized Bowman for his vote against infrastructure funding and a resolution that condemned Hamas.

"As county executive, we're rebuilding our infrastructure, cutting property taxes, and reforming the police while tackling crime head-on and protecting our environment," he said. "Unfortunately, instead of working for us, our Congressman is making news for all the wrong reasons, voting against resolutions to condemn Hamas instead of helping our communities with flooding and infrastructure."

He said it's time for Congress to stop its partisan squabbling and deliver for the American people.

"I'm running for Congress because it's time for Washington to stop bickering and start working for us," he said. "Let's deliver real progressive results, not rhetoric, together."

The race pits Latimer, 70, a Rye Democrat who has served in a string of local, county and state elected offices since the late 1980s, against Bowman, 47, a progressive firebrand and prominent member of the left-leaning Squad on Capitol Hill.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer delivered his county budget on Nov. 9, flanked by Operations Director Joan McDonald and Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins. Latimer announced his run for the US Congress on Dec. 6.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer delivered his county budget on Nov. 9, flanked by Operations Director Joan McDonald and Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins. Latimer announced his run for the US Congress on Dec. 6.

Two other Democrats have declared their candidacies as well - Westchester Deputy Corrections Commissioner Michael Gerald, and financial advisor Marty Dolan.

Foreign affairs loom large

Foreign affairs is expected to loom large in the Democratic primary as the Israel-Hamas conflict rages in Gaza. Latimer, who just returned from a weeklong trip with other Westchester officials to Israel, is backed by the pro-Israel American Israel Political Action Committee. Dozens of Hudson Valley rabbis in October urged Latimer to run.

Bowman, meanwhile, is a Congressional leader who speaks passionately for the rights of the Palestinians. When he was elected in 2020, Bowman was a member of the pro-Palestinian Democratic Socialists of America, but has said he let his membership lapse in 2022.

Bowman campaign spokeswoman Emma Simon noted that AIPAC and its affilates draw substantial support from donors to national Republicans.

"It’s not a surprise that a Super PAC that routinely targets Black members of Congress with primary challenges and is funded by the same Republican mega-donors who give millions to election-denying Republicans including Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and Ted Cruz, have recruited a candidate for this race."

A pro-Israel political action committtee, DFMI PAC, applauded Latimer's announcement, a sign that the race will draw financial support from across the nation.

"County Executive Latimer is a proud pro-Israel Democrat whose impressive record of public service and results-oriented leadership is respected throughout the district," said PAC Chairman Mark Mellman. "It will be good for voters there to once again have a voice in Congress who represents their values. Congressman Jamaal Bowman has a deeply troubling track record, which includes demeaning, demonizing, and delegitimizing Israel, while failing to address his constituents’ concerns about the alarming rise of antisemitism in their communities.”

A Bowman campaign spokesman noted that Bowman has condemned the violence perpetrated by Hamas, and in 2022 authored a resolution that passed the US House which condemned the Great Replacement Theory, which had inspired attacks on Jews and immigrants.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who represents New York's 16th Congressional District, speaks at Macy Park in Ardsley Aug. 15, 2023 about issues facing asylum seekers, and especially those who have been sent from New York City to Westchester County. He was joined by several dozen members of the Greenburgh Town Hall Summer Internship Program, who are working with asylum seekers who are being housed at the Ardsley Acres Motel.

More: Latimer files paperwork to challenge Bowman in Democratic primary for Congress

Latimer, who ousted incumbent County Executive Rob Astorino in 2017, announced his run midway through his second term. The county’s term limits law prohibits him from seeking a third term.

Latimer won the Democratic nomination for county executive in 2017 in a gentlemanly primary against Yonkers Democrat Ken Jenkins, a longtime member of the Westchester County Board of Legislators and former chairman. Jenkins subsequently served as deputy county executive under Latimer and is currently running to succeed him in 2025.

More: Latimer still weighing possible bid for Congress against fellow Democrat Bowman

The race between Latimer and Bowman is expected to become one of the most closely watched Democratic primaries in 2024. The progressive Working Families Party already endorsed Bowman, who pulled off a huge upset in 2020 when he defeated longtime incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary.

Bowman withstood a primary challenge mounted by Westchester County legislators Catherine Parker, D-Rye, and Vedat Gashi, D-Yorktown in 2022.

The district includes southern Westchester, and the Wakefield neighborhood in the north-central Bronx. It includes the cities of Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains and Rye, as well as towns of Eastchester, Pelham, Rye town, Scarsdale, and parts of Greenburgh.

David McKay Wilson writes about tax issues and government accountability. Follow him on Twitter @davidmckay415 or email him at dwilson3@lohud.com.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: George Latimer to face Jamaal Bowman in Congressional primary in NY-16