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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Bye Bye Bowman

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.

Nicholas Fandos at NYT:

Representative Jamaal Bowman of New York, one of Congress’s most outspoken progressives, suffered a stinging primary defeat on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, unable to overcome a record-shattering campaign from pro-Israel groups and a slate of self-inflicted blunders.

Mr. Bowman was defeated by George Latimer, the Westchester County executive, in a race that became the year’s ugliest intraparty brawl and the most expensive House primary in history.

It began last fall when Mr. Bowman stepped forward as one of the leading critics of how Israelis were carrying out their war with Hamas. But the contest grew into a broader proxy fight around the future of the Democratic Party, exposing painful fractures over race, class and ideology in a diverse district that includes parts of Westchester County and the Bronx.

Mr. Bowman, the district’s first Black congressman and a committed democratic socialist, never wavered from his calls for a cease-fire in Gaza or left-wing economic priorities. Down in the polls, he repeatedly accused his white opponent of racism and used expletives in denouncing the pro-Israel groups as a “Zionist regime” trying to buy the election.


A super PAC affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby, dumped $15 million into defeating him, more than any outside group has ever spent on a House race.


Mr. Bowman, 48, struck a defiant tone in his concession speech. He accused AIPAC and other super PACs involved in the race of spending huge sums to “brainwash people into believing something that isn’t true” and contended that “when we say ‘Free Palestine’ it is not antisemitic.” [He defended the annihilationist phrase "From the River to the Sea."]

“I would like to make a public apology for sometimes using foul language,” he said. “But we should not be well adjusted to a sick society.”

 Politico Playbook notes that it was not just about Bowman's radicalism and antisemitism.

— Mind your voting record and personal behavior: As our colleagues Nick Reisman, Rich Mendez and Emily Ngo write, the ads against Bowman barely mentioned Israel. Instead, the focus was largely on Bowman’s votes against Biden’s infrastructure law and against raising the debt ceiling.

And then there’s the fire alarm. As NYT’s Nicholas Fandos writes, the timing of the episode that resulted in a misdemeanor plea and House censure “could hardly have been worse. Opposition researchers turned up old blog posts dabbling in 9/11 conspiracy theories and publicized video of Mr. Bowman calling reports that Hamas sexually abused Israeli women during its attack ‘propaganda.’ (He later apologized.)”

— Don’t alienate your friends back home: A more skilled politician might have survived those travails with a local support network in place. Bowman didn’t have that; local political leaders instead flocked to Latimer, who as county executive had built close ties with mayors and town councilors, as AP’s Anthony Izaguirre writes, while Bowman had his eye on the national stage.

That relative lack of local backup extended to a notable Brooklynite — House Minority Leader HAKEEM JEFFRIES, who helped Bowman with a $5,000 leadership PAC donation and a late robocall, but did not exactly move heaven and earth to rescue him, as Akela Lacy of The Intercept reports.

— Don’t alienate your colleagues in Washington: Expect to hear plenty in the next few days about what Bowman’s loss means for the progressive movement writ large. But we heard yesterday from a House Democrat who represents a competitive district who wanted to vent about how Bowman’s loss was completely avoidable.

It was less about ideology, this lawmaker said, and more about how he went about his job: “Nobody who cares about them tried to help, tried to stop them, tried to say, ‘Hey, there's a better way. You don't need to do this. You can advocate for your position without alienating the vast majority of voters.’”

The frustration inside the caucus, the member continued, isn’t about any other member’s particular views on Israel or Medicare for All or any other issue. It’s about a lack of focus on winning a majority and focusing on the job of passing legislation.

“If you're going to start huge fights as opposed to governing,” the person said, “there are consequences.”

Russell Berman at The Atlantic:

Bowman’s progressive allies tried to rescue him in the closing days of the race. Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont headlined a rally for him in the South Bronx on Saturday. But despite being billed as a “get out the vote” event, the rally took place outside Bowman’s district, about seven miles away from any of his constituents. Three days later, they voted him out.