It's hard to imagine a Democratic congressional candidate easily pulling off an AOC-like victory against a longtime incumbent in the middle of a pandemic – but if anyone's got a chance, it may be Jamaal Bowman. First, a fellow progressive challenger dropped out and threw his support to Bowman. Then, the incumbent he's facing, Rep. Eliot Engel, was overheard saying at a press conference, “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.” The gaffe fueled more than $107,000 in contributions to Bowman's campaign that same day. The cherry on top? An endorsement from AOC herself.
This week's biggest Winners & Losers
This week's biggest Winners & Losers
First came the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Then came the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, spurring widespread outrage and protests. What’s next? Some kind of constitutional crisis during the upcoming elections? Flooding of New York City wrought by climate change? A plague of biblical proportions? Given all the bleak headlines these days, we hope our Winners & Losers list elicits a few smiles.
The bluest House district in America might go Rev. If the first public poll of the race to replace the retiring Rep. José Serrano in the South Bronx is to be believed, the anti-gay conservative Democratic member of the New York City Council is leading the field, with 22% support in the crowded race. Progressives have feared that outcome for more than a year, but this is fresh evidence that the cowboy-hatted councilman has taken the reins.
It can be hard to feel like a winner after getting pepper sprayed, but at least they can get some legislative revenge. State Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson both got pepper sprayed by police while peacefully protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Myrie was even wearing a bright yellow shirt that said “Senator Myrie.” But unlike other protesters, Myrie and Richardson can use their positions (that police seemed unaware of) to directly vote for reforms that would make those very police more accountable for their actions. How many people can say that?
The cops that turned their back on him in 2014 are still mad. And now the police reform advocates have turned their backs on him too. Left or right, pro-police or anti-police, nobody is happy with how de Blasio’s NYPD have responded to the protests and rioting. That radical leftist who supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua? The public advocate who campaigned against the evils of stop-and-frisk? He probably would have called for this mayor to resign.
Politicians may be derided as liars and equivocators, but a hot mic is one hell of a truth serum. Just ask Rep. Eliot Engel. At a news conference on police brutality protests in the Bronx, Engel was caught asking for a turn to speak, saying into a hot mic, “If I didn't have a primary, I wouldn’t care.” The comment, in the wake of nationwide protests against rampant police brutality and systemic racism, was taken as a slap in the face by many. Later in the week, Engel chose not to seek an endorsement from The New York Times after the paper published a widely panned guest op-ed calling for military deployment in response to protests – although maybe the congressman figured he wasn’t getting the paper’s support anyway.
Talk about disorder in the court. Colinford Mattis, a corporate lawyer and Brooklyn community board member, is now facing federal charges for his part in setting an NYPD van ablaze with a thrown molotov cocktail during a recent protest. Sure, discussions at community board meetings can get heated, but this is our first time hearing about a board member using literal fire to air a grievance. Perhaps Mattis’ top-notch legal background will come in handy in his upcoming court proceedings.