Jewish Dems endorse challengers to Squad members Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush

The move to oppose the embattled Democratic incumbents is a sign of their political vulnerability within the party

Nathan Howard/AP Photo

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) middle, and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), right, attend a vigil alongside state legislators and faith leaders currently on hunger strike outside the White House to demand that President Joe Biden call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023.

The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) on Thursday announced its endorsement of primary challengers to two far-left lawmakers, the first time the group — which is closely aligned with the Democratic Party — has backed candidates who are challenging Democratic incumbents. 

JDCA offered its support to George Latimer, the Westchester County executive who is taking on Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), and Wesley Bell, a St. Louis prosecutor looking to unseat Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO). Both Bowman and Bush have held strongly anti-Israel views since first elected —  and have only amplified their animus since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks. 

But they are also vulnerable because of scandals that are unrelated to Israel. Bush is under criminal investigation over alleged misspending of federal security money. Bowman pled guilty to a misdemeanor for pulling a fire alarm in a House office building last fall.

When explaining the endorsements, a JDCA spokesperson did not emphasize the candidates’ positions on Israel, saying that Israel is only one of many factors considered.

“We understand that Wesley Bell and George Latimer are supporting the priorities that Jewish Americans are prioritizing when they go to the polls,” said JDCA Communications Director Sam Crystal. “We know that they are fighting for abortion rights and for defending our democracy, and for safer communities and combating gun violence, and health care for all, and in support of Israel and combating antisemitism.”

Bush and Bowman are not the only members of the far-left Squad who are facing primary challengers. But JDCA chose to throw its support behind Latimer and Bell because it views those races as winnable. Left off the endorsement list is Democrat Bhavini Patel, who is running against Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA) in next month’s Pennsylvania primary. Lee has faced similar controversies over her strident criticisms of Israel and associations with antisemitic groups. 

Crystal declined to comment on the Pennsylvania race but, when asked about it, said JDCA is opting to focus on “competitive” races.

“We saw these two seats, in NY-16 and MO-1, as competitive races, and that’s where we’re focusing our efforts, in the places that are competitive,” said Crystal. New York’s primary is scheduled for June 25. Missouri’s primary is on Aug. 6.

JDCA does not plan to offer financial support to Latimer, Bell or other primary candidates. The group plans to spend $1.5 million in the general election. 

“We’re really focusing our efforts really on electing Democrats in November,” said Crystal. 

JDCA also announced endorsements of Democrats in several Senate races, including Rep. Adam Schiff in California, Rep. Ruben Gallego in Arizona, Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in Florida, Rep. Elissa Slotkin in Michigan and Rep. Colin Allred in Texas.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

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