DMFI congratulates Bowman, defends its $2 million spend to boost Engel

bang for bucks

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)

Following Rep. Eliot Engel’s (D-NY) projected loss to progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in New York’s 16th congressional district, Democratic Majority for Israel sought to defend its high-dollar investment in the race. With 99% of in-person voting reported, Bowman has a 63%-34% lead over Engel, and has already declared victory, although tens of thousands of votes, cast via mail-in ballots, will not be counted until next month. 

“Eliot Engel earned our support in this race by his forceful leadership on behalf of a progressive agenda, which includes a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” DMFI President and CEO Mark Mellman explained to Jewish Insider in a statement on Wednesday. “His constituents apparently concluded, however, that he had lost touch with them, and that is of course wholly their decision to make.” 

In recent weeks, outside pro-Israel groups and communal leaders stepped in to try and save the 16-term congressman from a devastating primary upset. DMFI spent close to $2 million in TV ads and campaign mailers in the district, attacking Bowman over issues including unpaid taxes. 

Pointing to the attack ad targeting Bowman’s taxes, which made waves across the district — and was condemned by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and publicly rejected by Engel — Mellman maintained that Israel was not a determining factor in the race. “It is important to note that, from voters’ point of view, support for Israel was not part of the debate in this race,” Mellman insisted. 

He added that Bowman chose to make Israel an issue last weekend when he clarified his position on Israel in an open letter addressed to Rabbi Avi Weiss, who had criticized him the previous week. 

“We congratulate our fellow Democrat Jamaal Bowman, and his allies, on a great campaign and look forward to working with him as a Member of Congress,” Mellman wrote.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered daily in a must-read newsletter.