Even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) attempts to unite her party’s progressive and moderate wings, it seems the far-left faction might be overpowering her.
That trend appeared to be on display this week when U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the long-serving incumbent who received Pelosi’s endorsement, lost to progressive activist Jamaal Bowman, as reported by the Daily Caller.
Engel, a 16-term congressman and chair of the powerful House foreign affairs committee, was supported by a range of establishment Democrats, including 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Nevertheless, Bowman secured a decisive 55-40 victory over the incumbent. The former middle school principal received endorsements from notable progressives including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), according to Axios.
The primary election was held last month and Bowman was the apparent winner, but the results have only recently been declared official.
“I can’t wait to get to Congress and cause problems for the people in there who have been maintaining a status quo that is literally killing our children,” he said in his post-election victory remarks.
While the result can be seen as a political loss for Pelosi and others, it is clear that Engel played a substantial role in his own political downfall. In addition to his more moderate platform amid the party’s lurch to the left, a series of blunders and perceived inaction on major issues has left him with sagging approval numbers.
Perhaps the most notable gaffe of the election came when a comment he made prior to a press conference on the civil unrest in New York was captured on a reporter’s microphone and widely disseminated.
“If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care,” Engel said of his desire to address the crowd.
Dem establishment takes a hit
Pelosi made it clear, however, that she believed that re-electing the powerful lawmaker would be in the party’s best interest.
“Chairman Engel is the chairman of the foreign affairs committee,” she said in her endorsement last month. “He also has unique privilege, which is unique and it wouldn’t happen again … he is also not only the chairman of foreign affairs, he is a senior member of the energy and commerce committee.”
Given the resounding loss her favored candidate registered in the subsequent election, it remains to be seen how much longer Pelosi remains a relevant leader within today’s Democratic Party.