Long-anticipated AIPAC blitz against Bowman begins with $2 million, one-week ad buy

The ads, airing on pricey New York City broadcast TV, hit Bowman for breaking with Biden and praise Latimer’s record

Screenshot: UDP advertisement

The United Democracy Project, the AIPAC-affiliated super PAC, is launching an ad blitz on Thursday against Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and in support of his primary opponent, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, beginning its long-anticipated campaign against the endangered Squad member.

UDP is making an initial buy of $2 million in the New York race — $1 million each for an anti-Bowman and a pro-Latimer ad. New York’s primaries aren’t until June 25, suggesting UDP is planning to spend a significant amount in the Bowman/Latimer race.

“Bowman is an anti-Israel extremist who traffics in conspiracy theories,” UDP spokesperson Patrick Dorton told Jewish Insider. “He vehemently disagrees with President Biden on the U.S.-Israel relationship and refused to condemn Hamas on the House floor. It’s clear that Bowman doesn’t represent the views of his district.”

The anti-Bowman ad focuses primarily on Bowman’s voting record against bills backed by President Joe Biden, including the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the debt limit deal. 

“Jamaal Bowman has his own agenda and refuses to compromise, even with President Biden,” the ad’s narrator intones. “He’s hurting New York.”

The ad accuses Bowman of opposing improvements to roads and bridges and replacing lead pipes, citing the infrastructure vote, and of endangering social security and the U.S. economy, citing the debt limit vote.

The ad supporting Latimer creates a direct contrast between Latimer and UDP’s characterization of Bowman, stating that Latimer “is putting people ahead of personal agendas and delivering real progressive results.”

“In Congress, George Latimer will take on MAGA extremists and he’ll work with President Biden to keep delivering progressive results,” the ad continues.

It states that Latimer is pushing for large-scale local infrastructure projects, worked to reduce gun violence, banned gun shows and signed legislation to protect abortion.

The UDP ad buy comes during a week when Bowman has faced renewed scrutiny over comments on Israel and AIPAC.

Bowman, in a campaign event with Vote Save America earlier this week, said that AIPAC “had full control of this district” before he was elected “just like they now have full control of Congress as they fund every one.” 

Claiming that AIPAC is a right-wing Republican organization, he alleged he’s being targeted because he is “speaking for human rights and humanity and freedom and justice and equality for all people. Black, brown, LGBTQ, marginalized, poor, Palestinian.”

“We have to save ourselves as a human race,” Bowman continued. “We are literally destroying ourselves because we’re thirsty and drunk on power over each other, maintaining a caste system of the white male supremacy system that we have to get rid of.”

He claimed that AIPAC does not want poor and marginalized people to “have a seat at the table.”

The remarks echo comments Bowman made at a debate earlier this week, when he repeatedly attacked Latimer over backing from AIPAC, calling him “in the pocket and bought and paid for by AIPAC.” At the debate, Bowman also said that he doesn’t believe the slogan, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” constitutes hate speech or a call for the eradication of Israel.

One local rabbi, Howard Goldsmith, who leads a synagogue in Westchester County, offered scathing feedback about Bowman’s comments at the debate in a newsletter this week. Goldsmith said the remarks invoke classic antisemitic tropes dating back to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He said Bowman is using AIPAC as a “codeword” for Jews.

Jake Dilemani, a New York Democratic strategist, said that, especially with the escalating advertising in the district, the race is likely to pick up in the coming days and weeks. 

“Everyone assumes this is going to be a tight race, which is why there’s so many resources being put into it,” Dilemani said. “As voters pay more and more attention to what’s going on — and people are going to start casting ballots as soon as within the next week or so — the race is going to crystallize more… The race is going to continue to be a very highly contested endeavor until the very end.”

Dilemani characterized Bowman’s recent comments as “in the same vein he’s always operated as a member of Congress” — “not particularly representative of the majority of his district” on a range of issues, including but not limited to Israel. The 16th Congressional District, which includes parts of the Bronx and much of southern Westchester County, has a sizable Jewish population.

While Dilemani acknowledged that Bowman’s “fiery rhetoric” hasn’t prevented him from winning his last two elections, he also argued Bowman hasn’t faced such strong competition in either race.

Dilemani added that Oct. 7, as well as the antisemitism that’s been growing over the past two years “lit a fire under people in a way that did not exist in 2022, which is why you’re seeing such strong, cohesive activism out of the Jewish community,” further exacerbating the existing rift with Bowman.

But he said that Latimer can’t, and likely will not, take anything for granted. 

“I don’t think anyone thinks that this is an easy race,” Dilemani said. “It is tough to dislodge an incumbent no matter what. But if there is someone to do it, it’s going to be George.”

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