'The Squad' takes first major loss with ouster of Jamaal Bowman

 June 28, 2024

Socialist Democrat Jamaal Bowman, a member of the so-called "Squad," is out of a job after losing an expensive primary election in New York that highlighted divisions within his party over Israel. 

Bowman's defeat in New York's 16th district is the first major loss for the so-called "Squad" of socialist Democrats since the group rose to prominence with the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Ny.) in 2018.

Bowman lost to moderate Democrat George Latimer, who had the backing of Hillary Clinton and lavish funding from AIPAC, a prominent Israel lobby.

The group splashed $15 million into defeating Bowman, making his primary the most expensive in U.S. history. But Bowman did the legwork for his opponent, garnering a reputation as a loose cannon during his short tenure.

"Squad" member unseated

The 48-year-old former school principal infamously pulled a fire alarm to delay a congressional vote, and in the final stretch of his primary campaign he went viral with a foul rant in the Bronx.

The "Squad" has long been known for its radical rhetoric, with Ilhan Omar (D-Mn.) facing accusations early in her career of using anti-Semitic tropes to criticize AIPAC's influence.

Hamas' October 7 attack only fueled tensions among Democrats, exposing a divide between supporters of Israel and progressives who embrace the Palestinian cause as part of a wider struggle against Western "colonialism."

Bowman's primary battle became a proxy for the Israel divide, with Bowman accusing Israel of "genocide" in Palestine.

Another upset coming soon?

Bowman's defeat was notable after years of controversy dogging the "Squad," which, until now, had never taken a significant loss.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Ny.), the most notorious member of the "Squad," has proven resilient. She won her primary in a landslide Tuesday, guaranteeing she will go on to serve a fourth term in her deep blue district in the Bronx and Queens.

Bowman was less lucky. His district shifted after his election in 2020, becoming less urban and including more affluent, moderate suburbs north of New York City.

The "Squad" is facing another possible upset this summer, however. Missouri's Cori Bush is in a tight race against an AIPAC-backed opponent, Wesley Bell.

Like Bowman, Bush is an erratic figure with a checked reputation - she literally claims to have miraculous healing powers, for example - and she's also under investigation for her campaign spending.

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