Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) backed the primary challenger to fellow Democrat Eliot Engel, after Engel was caught on hot mic saying he only wanted to speak at a George Floyd rally because of the upcoming election.
A day before Engel’s gaffe, progressive groups united to support the candidacy of Jamaal Bowman, a former middle school teacher from the Bronx. Engel’s district covers portions of the Bronx, as does Ocasio-Cortez’s.
“This moment requires renewed and revitalized leadership across the country AND at the ballot box,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter Wednesday night. “Not only is Jamaal a profound community leader, but I believe he’d make a fantastic colleague in the United States House of Representatives.
Engel, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is completing his sixteenth term in Congress and has raised about $1.6 million through March of this year. However, the lawmaker faced criticism for not returning to his district for months during the coronavirus pandemic. The Bronx and Westchester have been among hardest-hit areas of New York State.
At a George Floyd rally on Tuesday, Engel asked Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. to allow him to address the crowd.
“There’s just too many folks here” who are scheduled to speak, Diaz said.
“If I didn’t have a primary I wouldn’t care,” Engel replied. Shaking his head, Diaz told Engel “Don’t to this to me. We’re not going to do this.”