U.S. Congressman Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) speaks at a press conference with other progressives in Congress and rabbis in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on November 13, 2023.

(Photo: Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Bowman v. Latimer Is About Whether Billionaires Control Congress, Says Sanders

The Democratic incumbent's defeat in New York, the senator warns, "would be a message to every member of Congress that if you oppose corporate interests the billionaire class will take you down."

With early voting already underway in New York, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders warned Tuesday that Westchester County Executive George Latimer's primary challenge to Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman in the state's 16th District is ultimately about the power of the ultrarich.

"The Democratic primary between Rep. Jamaal Bowman and George Latimer is not just a clash of two very different points of view. It is a clash over the future of the Democratic Party and the future of American politics," said Sanders (I-Vt.). "It is a clash over whether we will have, at least minimally, a democratic form of government in which Congress represents the needs of ordinary Americans, or whether Congress will be completely controlled by the billionaire class and corporate interests."

Sanders' statement came as the senator prepares to rally with Bowman on Friday at MacEachron Park in Hastings-on-Hudson. On Saturday, they are set to be joined by Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York's 14th District, for a get-out-the-vote rally at St. Mary's Park in the Bronx. The official primary date is June 25.

Bowman—a critic of the U.S.-backed Israeli war on Gaza—has been the top congressional target of pro-Israel lobbying groups during this cycle. In fact, largely thanks to spending by a group tied to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), "it had become the nation's most expensive House primary this year," Gannett reported this week.

United Democracy Project (UPD), an AIPAC-affiliated super political action committee (PAC), has spent over $14 million on advertising for the contest, according to AdImpact. The group is followed by Latimer—who filed paperwork for his campaign after visiting Israel and was accused of "straight up Islamophobia" during a debate with Bowman last week.

"Latimer's campaign will attract more billionaire super PAC money than any primary race in history," Sanders said Tuesday. "The donors behind these super PACs, AIPAC's United Democracy Project and the crypto-backed Fairshake, are not only spending a huge amount of money to support Latimer's campaign, but are also making large donations to right-wing extremist Republican candidates."

"For the billionaires who control these super PACs, it doesn't matter much whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. It only matters that you support the corporate agenda and Establishment neo-con foreign policies," he continued. "The defeat of Bowman would not only result in the loss of a strong, progressive member of Congress, it would be a message to every member of Congress that if you oppose corporate interests the billionaire class will take you down. We must not allow that to happen."

Sharing Sanders' full remarks on social media, Bowman said that "AIPAC and their Republican billionaire donors are using NY16 as a test. They think they can buy our district—but we won't let them. On June 25th it's the many v. the money, and we will win."

Fellow "Squad" member Ocasio-Cortez also took aim at AIPAC on social media Tuesday, declaring that it is "time to rally."

"Big money, from AIPAC to Wall Street, have poured millions to buy this election," she said, urging participation in the Saturday rally. "To win, we must mobilize thousands."

In addition to targeting Bowman, AIPAC, UDP, and wealthy right-wingers are working to oust another Squad member: Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush, who is facing St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell the August 6 primary for Missouri's 1st District.

"We've got your back, Jamaal Bowman!" Bush declared on social media last week. "From St. Louis to the Bronx, I know the people will stand with us to show that we are #NotForSale!"

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