Pro-Israel Democrat to challenge US Rep. Jamaal Bowman in primary race next year

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A pro-Israel Democrat will challenge U.S. Rep. Jamaal Brown in the primary race for his congressional seat next year.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced his candidacy Wednesday for the New York district, which covers parts of the north Bronx and Westchester suburbs.

Bowman is one of the House’s most vocal critics of Israel, and Jewish community leaders have been encouraging Latimer to run since the eruption of the latest Israel-Hamas war. The 70-year-old launched his campaign with an ad criticizing Bowman’s stance on the conflict as well as his opposition to a major Democratic infrastructure bill.

“It’s the continual commentary from people who live in the district who feel that they are not represented properly from the incumbent,” Latimer said in an interview with the Associated Press. “His focus has been to make a national name for himself.”

Several other House Democrats are also facing primary challenges due in part to their stances on the war.

Latimer, who returned from a trip to Israel last week, stressed that Bowman’s stance on the conflict was only part of the reason he decided to run. He said will focus on progressive policies around housing and abortion, among others.

Bowman’s press office did not immediately return an emailed request for comment.

The congressman has condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and rising antisemitism, but has also been critical of U.S. military aid to Israel and has made statements seen as inflammatory by Israel’s staunchest supporters.

Last month, Bowman said his office has been inundated with calls after he was among a few House members who opposed a resolution supporting Israel. He told a crowd a recent cease-fire rally that he opposed the resolution because, “I don’t believe it gives us a path forward to peace and justice for all people.”

“Every single life is precious, every single one,” he said. “We cannot allow the lives of anyone to be erased. This erasure of Palestinian lives and experience has been happening for decades.”

In September, Bowman drew national attention after he triggered a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building as lawmakers scrambled to pass a funding bill before a government shutdown deadline.

He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count for the move, but maintained it was a mistake as he tried to open a locked door while rushing to vote.

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