The final results are now in, and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY16) won the Democratic primary with a slim 52% majority. It’s an embarrassing showing for an incumbent, who might have lost had he faced a single opponent. The result is actually not surprising, as his district was redrawn just a few months earlier, with many voters unfamiliar with him and many not coming out to vote in the final weeks of summer.
He is also disliked by a huge portion of the district.
A lot of money was raised by one of Bowman’s opponents, Vedat Gashi, who came in second with 27% of the vote. Catherine Parker, well known in her local town came in third with 20%, while Mark Jaffe, who had dropped out of the race, gathered 2%.
|Candidate||Votes||percent of votes|
Much of lower Westchester is slightly left-of-center, way to the right of the extreme left-wing views of Bowman. As such, people are beginning to assess how to replace this representative in the next election in two years.
A deeper dive into the numbers yields some clues.
Bowman won a majority of only five of the 12 towns and cities in his district. He managed to secure the overall win because those five municipalities accounted for 64% of the Democratic voter turnout. Greenburgh and Yonkers had 20% and 19% of the votes, respectively, and Bowman took them with 56% and 61% of the vote, respectively. New Rochelle was the third largest municipality with 13% of the primary votes, and Bowman took it with 51% of the votes.
Gashi won Scarsdale with 60% of the votes, but the town only accounted for 4% of the total votes. Parker took her hometown of the City of Rye with 64% of the votes, and also beat the other candidates in Mamaroneck with 44% of the votes, however, those two municipalities only accounted for 10% of the total votes. Factoring the large amount of money raised by Gashi, and Parker having a local base of constituents and being the only woman in the race right after the Supreme Court threw out the constitutional right to abortion, both candidates did much worse than should be expected against such a poor incumbent.
So if the answer is not to back either of these candidates next time, how do moderates beat Bowman in 2024?
1. Back a single candidate, EARLY
Politicians are politicians, so they will always be running for office and fund-raising. If a politician thinks they have some shot at winning and can build political capital, they will enter the race. After all, they are spending other people’s money at the end of the day.
If there are multiple moderates running against Bowman, the split in the vote all but assures Bowman’s victory. In the 2022 race, had Parker not entered the race late as a spoiler, Gashi might have prevailed.
The key is therefore to get centrists out to push local politicians and community leaders to back a single candidate early. With enough endorsements from mayors and local officials from lower Westchester, it could prevent lesser known politicians from entering the fray lest they be tarred as a spoiler, and hand Bowman a victory once again.
2. Get Harrison to register Democratic and vote
As the chart below demonstrates, the average voter turnout in each municipality was 6.4%. Mamaroneck, part of Parker’s County District 7, led with 9.4% voter turnout – but she barely won on her home turf with 44%, compared to 35% Bowman / 20% Gashi. Scarsdale also had a great turnout with 9.2%, with an impassioned Jewish vote backing Gashi where he won with 60% of the vote compared to just 18% for Bowman.
|Town of Rye||1,727|
|City of Rye||1,070||15,769||6.8%|
Meanwhile, Harrison had just a 2.6% voter turnout, the worst in the district. With 67% of the town’s voters opting for someone other than Bowman, a concerted effort must be placed to get Harrison voters (really everyone) to register with the Democratic Party and get out to vote during the primaries. Recall that this district is now D+40, meaning Biden beat Trump in the last election by roughly 40 points, so the Democratic primary is the battlefield, not the November election.
3. Support a centrist minority from Greenburgh, Mount Vernon or Yonkers
The Jewish vote stands at roughly 25% of the district, Hispanics at about 28% and Blacks at 21%. As the overall Jewish vote does not vote as a block, chipping away at Bowman’s base in the Black community could be part of a winning strategy.
Bowman won a whopping 86% of the vote in Mount Vernon. It is the fourth largest municipality with a population of 67,000, trailing Yonkers at 200,000, Greenburgh at 91,000 and New Rochelle at 79,000. Backing a Black centrist politician from one of those cities, or a Hispanic woman, could peel away important votes away from Bowman.
4. Build a loud Orthodox Jewish voting block
The Orthodox community coalesced late in the 2022 campaign around Gashi. He won 60% of Scarsdale, 35% of White Plains and 33% of New Rochelle – the towns where he secured the highest percentage of votes were those with the greatest number of Orthodox Jews. The community should continue to build upon that political momentum and become a reliable block to bring the district more towards the center.
The community should also become more active locally. For example, it should lead the charge in getting Westchester County to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. Leaving local politics and organizations to progressives, mainstreams some extremists’ opinions and fractures society. That historic approach brought anti-Israel speakers to local synagogues where local rabbis serve on boards of directors of far left-wing groups. The intersectional bonds the progressive Jewish community leaders are cementing with anti-Semites and anti-Zionists should be denounced by members of the synagogues and the local community.
In addition to bringing the non-Orthodox Jewish community towards the center, Westchester’s Orthodox community should build relationships with the local Hispanic, Asian and religious Christian community which sends their children to parochial schools. They are more conservative than the Black and liberal non-Orthodox communities, and can expand the sphere of influence in local elections.
Here are just a few actions for the people of lower Westchester to retire Jamaal Bowman, the extremist congressman who now mis-represents them.