'You know what Trump is most afraid of? A black man with power': NYC principal set to oust 16-term congressman delivers fiery speech

'I can’t wait to get to Congress and cause problems'

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 24 June 2020 15:27 BST
Eliot Engels caught on hot mic saying 'if I didn't have a primary I wouldn't care' at George Floyd protest

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Jamaal Bowman, a progressive political outsider who appears set to defeat longtime incumbent Rep Eliot Engel in New York’s congressional primaries, has delivered a fiery speech targeting Donald Trump and vowing to fight against corporate interests.

Mr Bowman, who ran against Mr Engel, 73, in New York’s 16th congressional district, did not declare victory over his opponent. But the 44-year-old middle school principal from the Bronx celebrated what he called a “movement” and told supporters: “I can’t wait to get to Congress and cause problems.”

“Eliot Engel ― and I’ll say his name once ― used to say that he was a thorn in the side of Donald Trump. But you know what Donald Trump is more afraid of than anything else? A black man with power,” the Democratic candidate said as votes continued to be counted on Tuesday night. “So if the results continue to bear out, as they are bearing out this evening, and we get to Congress, it will be our job to hold Donald Trump accountable and to hold every elected official accountable that continues to be beholden to corporate interests, that continues to be beholden to the wealthy, and is not fighting for the poor and is not fighting for the working class in our country.”

New York laws provide an eight-day window after the election for counties to begin counting absentee ballots, and since more than 700,000 New York City residents requested mail-in votes amid the coronavirus pandemic, official projections were not expected to be announced for at least a couple weeks.

Still, Mr Bowman was leading Mr Engel with over 60 percent of the vote — compared to Mr Engel’s 35.6 percent, which showed 92 percent of precincts reporting just after 2am.

Tuesday night featured several strong showings for progressive candidates across the state of New York, including Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who seemingly sailed to victory in her primary race Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a wealthy former journalist who funded much of her campaign and had been backed by the US Chamber of Commerce.

Sure Patel, who challenged Rep Carolyn Maloney in New York’s 12th district in 2018 and again this year, appeared to be in a tight race against the longtime incumbent Democrat. In a statement, the progressive outsider said: “We are confident in our path to victory after a very strong performance on Election Day, which traditionally favours establishment voters. Over 58% of New Yorkers have rejected the incumbent's politics of the past. We have a mandate for change, and the final tally will reflect that."

Mr Bowman’s race against Mr Engel has quickly become one of the most-watched primary challenges of the season, as his bid to unseat the 31-year incumbent showed strong signs of support throughout the district in recent polls leading up to the election.

“The results show that this district is demanding change,” Mr Bowman said. “This is what this district has been waiting for, this is what this country has been waiting for.”

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