Hillary Clinton Endorses Rep. Jamaal Bowman's Primary Challenger

Hillary Clinton rarely gets involved in Democratic congressional primaries, but she shares George Latimer's pro-Israel policy views.
Hillary Clinton rarely gets involved in Democratic congressional primaries, but she shares George Latimer's pro-Israel policy views. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday endorsed George Latimer’s Democratic primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman in New York, a rare foray into primary politics that signals the extent of establishment discontent with Bowman.

Bowman’s vocal opposition to Israel’s invasion of Gaza following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on the country — an invasion that Bowman has dubbed a “genocide” — has made him a top target of pro-Israel constituents, outside groups, and local elected Democrats with more moderate leanings.

“With [Donald] Trump on the ballot, we need strong, principled Democrats in Congress more than ever,” Clinton tweeted in reference to the GOP presidential candidate, adding that Latimer “will protect abortion rights” and “stand up to” the National Rifle Association.

Latimer, the executive of Westchester County, welcomed the endorsement from Clinton, a former Democratic presidential nominee, calling it a “deep honor.”

“Her voice gives even more momentum to our grassroots campaign, which keeps gaining strength because we stand strongly and honestly for our values and for our belief in delivering meaningful results for the communities we serve,” he said in a statement.

Latimer is hoping to unseat Bowman in the Democratic primary in New York’s 16th Congressional District, a solidly blue seat encompassing lower Westchester County, just north of New York City, and a sliver of the northern Bronx.

Latimer led Bowman by 17 percentage points in an Emerson College/PIX11/The Hill poll out Tuesday — the first poll of the race not conducted by a campaign or an allied outside group. The nod from Clinton, a resident of Westchester County — albeit one in the adjacent 17th Congressional District — could help Latimer consolidate moderate support.

The race in New York’s 16th has been marked by big super PAC spending, especially from pro-Israel groups supporting Latimer. United Democracy Project, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s super PAC, has spent more than $13 million alone on TV advertisements, according to AdImpact.

Clinton shares Latimer’s support for the Israeli response to the Oct. 7 attack, which killed over 1,100 people in Israel, mostly civilians, and resulted in the capture of about 250 hostages. The Israeli invasion of Gaza has since killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, including nearly 16,000 children; displaced three-quarters of the territory’s population; and created severe shortages of food, water and medical supplies.

Latimer has paired his critique of Bowman’s pro-Palestinian positions with a case against Bowman’s left-wing style of lawmaking. Latimer and United Democracy Project have both singled out Bowman’s vote against Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure legislation as an illustrative example; Clinton’s tweet likewise suggested that Latimer would be a better ally to Biden.

Bowman and five other progressives voted against the infrastructure bill to keep pressure on congressional Democrats to pass a suite of social and climate-focused reforms, a scaled-down version of which became law in the Inflation Reduction Act. He’s said that he had authorization from Democratic leaders to vote “no” on the infrastructure bill because it was set to pass easily anyway.

In addition, Latimer might not always be a loyal soldier for Biden. Latimer said in a late May interview that he opposes raising any new income taxes. That position puts him to the right of Biden, who has proposed undoing some of the income tax cuts for corporations and wealthy families from Trump’s presidency.