primary play

Bowman seeks to rally voters at fundraiser co-hosted by Jewish progressives

Rep. Jamaal Bowman will appear alongside Brad Lander, New York City’s comptroller, at the Upper West Side home of Jennifer Hirsch, at an event co-hosted by Ruth Messinger

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) arrives to the U.S. Capitol before the House voted to send an articles of impeachment resolution against President Joe Biden to committees on Thursday, June 22, 2023.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) will host a fundraiser on Thursday night alongside a pair of New York Jewish progressives as he looks to shore up support from Jewish voters despite his anti-Israel positions. 

Bowman will appear alongside Brad Lander, New York City’s comptroller, at the Upper West Side home of Jennifer Hirsch, at an event co-hosted by Ruth Messinger, a longtime local Democrat. All three are Jewish progressives who have aligned with Bowman on opposing the conduct of the IDF in Gaza and the crackdown on college protesters despite instances of violence and antisemitic behavior. 

An invitation to the event, a copy of which was obtained by Jewish Insider, makes no reference to Israel, Gaza or the campus unrest. 

Despite maintaining support from those attending Thursday’s festivities, Bowman’s far-left, anti-Israel record in Congress has alienated moderate Democratic voters to the point where he could lose a hotly-contested primary against Westchester County Executive George Latimer next month. 

In the run-up to the June primary, Bowman is working to improve his standing with suburban voters who have been put off by his hard-left activism. Latimer has consistently polled ahead of the incumbent congressman with that moderate suburban constituency — most notably, among Jewish voters alienated by Bowman’s anti-Israel posture. 

Whether Thursday’s fundraiser can make a difference in the race remains to be seen, though Democratic strategists say Latimer is nonetheless expected to receive the lion’s share of the Jewish vote. 

“This is newsworthy only because these are allegedly prominent Jews who are putting their weight behind a person supported by anti-Israel people generally and many who are antisemites,” Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic strategist in New York, told JI of the event. 

“It’s consistent with people like Messinger, West Side liberals and others, who have always had problems with how they define Judaism. It has less to do with religion than some kind of cultural idea that requires that one vote Democratic. … Then you have Brad Lander, who’s a publicly acknowledged member of the Democratic Socialists of America. In order to gain entry into their group, you sign a document saying you will not visit Israel or support BDS,” Sheinkopf said.

Sheinkopf said he believes Latinos will be the deciding constituency that picks the winner of this race, telling JI that, “One group in that district that will decide this by turnout might be Latinos of multiple variations. Blacks are likely to vote for the incumbent who’s been endorsed by [House Minority Leader] Hakeem Jeffries and others, and Jews in Westchester are likely not to vote for Bowman.”

Jake Dilemani, a Democratic strategist who helped advise a former challenger to Bowman, told JI he similarly did not believe Bowman would be able to change the perception most Jewish voters have of him. 

“Not to say that the Jewish community is monolithic, no community is,” Dilemani said. “However, I do believe that the die is basically cast here in terms of the Jewish community in this congressional race.”

“Given the fact that there has basically been no ebb to the amount of antisemitism happening in this country right now, just look at the campus for Columbia, right? There’s just so much happening right now in this country and the world,” he continued. “Members of the Squad have essentially doubled down on their positions that are seen as opposing the interests of the Jewish community that I don’t think a fundraiser here or an event there headlined by folks who happen to be Jewish is going to change the opinions of the overwhelming majority of Jewish voters in this district.”

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