Jamaal Bowman

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‘Make them spend’: Progressives plot independent run to drain Israel lobby after Jamaal Bowman upset in NY

AIPAC spent $14 million on the primary.


Katherine Huggins


Progressive proponents of Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), who on Tuesday lost his primary to moderate Democrat George Latimer, are advocating for him to run as an independent in the general election as part of an anti-Israel protest.

Latimer defeated Bowman by a nearly 17-point margin in a high-profile race that centered on the Israel-Hamas war, and turned into the most expensive primary contest in history, with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) dropping more than $14 million on TV ads to unseat Bowman.

AIPAC entered into the race over Bowman’s continued criticism of Israel since its response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, accusing the country of committing genocide in Gaza and calling for an end to U.S. military aid.

Because of AIPAC’s involvement in the race, some fans of Bowman are placing the blame for his loss solely on its lobbying.

“AIPAC bought another member of Congress,” claimed Nina Turner, a progressive from Ohio who lost a congressional Democratic primary election in 2022. Her opponent, who went on to win in the general, was supported by AIPAC.

“They’ve bought George Latimer’s seat and that’s a dangerous undermining of democracy,” alleged someone else.

And Bowman himself made the race about the pro-Israel lobby, alleging that “AIPAC and their Republican billionaires … are trying to buy NY-16.”

But some left-wingers are taking things a step further and calling for Bowman to run in November’s general election regardless of his primary loss—to stick it to AIPAC.

“Bowman should run in the general,” wrote one person online. “At least he’ll force AIPAC to spend more money. Latimer is essentially a Republican anyway so ‘splitting the vote’ doesn’t matter.”

The account added: “and if the vote splits and the republican wins a term – prob better in the long run than helping the Democrats slide ever more rightward. Latimer is a … rubber stamp for AIPAC who’s against raising taxes on the rich.”

It is highly unlikely AIPAC will spend any more on the race as is, given it is not a competitive seat. The district is a strong blue seat whose voters have not sent a Republican to Congress since 1946.

Echoed one commenter: “Honestly you’re right just keep running make them spend the cash and this time go full blown scorched earth.”

“He should run on the Working Parties ballot line,” replied someone else.

Sore loser laws generally prohibit candidates who lost a primary election from then running as an independent or on another party’s ballot line in the general election. Only Connecticut and New York lack a sore loser law, and thus the far-left proposal is theoretically possible, though unlikely.

“Bowman being the first DSA member to break from the Dems with an independent run for federal office would be both hilarious and strategic,” wrote one person. “If we could actually hold him to principled anti-zionism I’d be fully on board.”

The idea of Jamaal Bowman running in the general—which he has in no way indicated he would consider—has riled other Democrats, who argued the protest-focused ploy would lead to a Republican winning the seat, especially given the GOP’s success last election in the state.

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