About the Latimer-Bowman Contest

Here’s a short note about the Bowman-Latimer race in southern Westchester County, NY. This is the infamous most expensive House primary race in history. As most of you know I’m living in Westchester now, but not in that district. From where I sit, I don’t know that Latimer’s defeat of Bowman is the bellwhether some commentary is making it out to be.

Bowman was profoundly shaken after a trip to Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank in 2021. Bowman’s criticisms of Israel after October 7 got the attention of AIPAC, which spent more than $14 million on the race. Bowman’s opponent, George Latimer, is a long-time Westchester County Democratic politician who has held several county and state offices. Voters know his name and are comfortable with him. I suspect he might have won the race even without AIPAC’s money. I expect him to win the general election.

The campaign AIPAC funded was not about Israel. Many of the television ads against Bowman listed all the times Bowman voted against some legislation supported by President Biden. Bowman, on the other hand, made AIPAC the focus of his campaign against Latimer. Voters possibly didn’t care that much about AIPAC’s campaign spending. But my point is that I don’t know that yesterday’s outcome is really telling us anything about public support or opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza, or about “the Squad,” the group of House progressives that counted Bowman as a member.

The district is mostly in southern Westchester and partly in The Bronx. There’s a lot of old inherited money in Westchester, but the southern part especially also has a lot of working-class people and mostly Latino immigrants. The district is less than 40 percent white and nearly 30 percent Latino. Josh Marshall’s analysis, which is worth reading, says “I wrote Monday that many observers missed a key element of this race. Jamaal Bowman wasn’t getting run out of Congress by a flood of pro-Israel money. He was getting run out of office because he’d gotten critically out of sync with his district.”  That seems about right.

One thought on “About the Latimer-Bowman Contest

  1. This critique seems right. It's a mistake that any member of the House can make. Their title IS their job description – "Representative." I like idealists in the Houe, people with vision. Even though your vision has national scope, and your vote has national implications, you work for (approximately) 750,000 residents of your district. Not all are voters – a significant chunk may not be from your party. The census is supposed to count everybody because legal or illegal, they are there. They need housing, water, etc. They impact the needs of schools and as a member of the House, they are all your problem.

    Though it's more common for Republicans, if your constituents think you are out of touch with the local problems and issues, you are vulnerable in the next election. 

    A year after my flight, I met "my" House rep in her Tampa office. We had a long talk, which surprised me. On the day I flew, and while I was under arrest, her office contacted the DC PD to explain that I was from Cathy Castor's district. And by implication, she was watching. About a week after my flight, her office contacted me at home in FL with a request for a copy of my letter to Congress.  Though I was unusual, I don't think Rep. Castor's conduct was out of the ordinary. I was an event from her district and she engaged.

    The whole psychology, particularly the House, was (IMO) the intention of the authors of the Constitution. Trump cultists in Congress do not see it that way at all – they only recognize the obligation to the other cultists. This may become their undoing – voters will quickly take more of an interest in the progress or decay of local systems than national crusades and vendettas. The MTGs of Congress have no interest in the nuts and bolts of making stuff work. Voters also have no concern about HOW things work, they just expect that they should. House members are the first in government to feel the boot from voters when things are NOT working. 


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