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Rep. Bowman loses in New York Democratic primary shaped by Israel-Hamas war


Jaamal Bowman is out. He's a member of Congress who defeated a longtime Democrat in a primary back in 2020 in New York, and now he has lost a primary to a candidate who accused Bowman of being divisive. Steve Kastenbaum reports.

STEVE KASTENBAUM, BYLINE: In New York, it's rare for a primary challenger to unseat a sitting Democratic member of Congress, yet that's how Jaamal Bowman first made it into Congress four years ago, and that's also how he lost the election in this district that straddles the line between the Bronx and Westchester County suburbs. The bitter contest between Bowman the incumbent and his primary challenger, Westchester County executive George Latimer, was fueled by the congressman's criticism of the war in Gaza.


KASTENBAUM: Latimer celebrated with supporters at his election night headquarters. During the race, he accused Bowman of being a divisive figure, but last night in his victory speech, he called for unity.

GEORGE LATIMER: We have to find each other and link with each other. We have to look at the arguments of the far right and the far left and say, you cannot destroy this country with your rhetoric and your arguments.

KASTENBAUM: In the city of Yonkers, Jaamal Bowman struck a different tone. While he conceded defeat, he expressed anger over the tens of millions of dollars that outside groups, including the pro-Israel lobbying organization APAC poured into this primary race to defeat him.

JAAMAL BOWMAN: This movement has always been about justice. It has always been about humanity. It has always been about equality.

KASTENBAUM: Bowman is a leading critic in Congress about the war in Gaza, along with other progressive Democrats who've called for an immediate cease-fire. When he doubted claims that Israeli women were raped during the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, Bowman faced allegations of antisemitism. He pushed back strongly and later condemned sexual violence in all its forms.

For NPR News, I'm Steve Kastenbaum, in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Steve Kastenbaum