Will George Latimer Attempt to unseat Jamaal Bowman? Who Will Be The Last Man Standing?

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In this corner…

Democrats were attempting to gerrymander, which led to newly drawn lines by a special master and the turnover of several Democrats, which eventually led to the Dems losing the house. In 2024, local NY Dems will not only attempt to flip those seats, but one other Dem may have a formable foe.

News 12’s Tara Rosenblum has learned and reported that Westchester County Executive George Latimer has reportedly been approached by Democratic donors, Police Unions, and Jewish Groups about primarying Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the 16th Congressional District, which spans part of the northern Bronx and half of Westchester County. The move to unseat the popular incumbent in the safely blue district raised immediate eyebrows among political observers. But if he chose to run, Latimer could give Bowman a serious challenge, especially as Bowman faces headwinds on the issue of Israel.

CE Latimer told News12 that he is “thinking about the advice I have been given and will have more to come.” He didn’t immediately respond when Black Westchester asked him if he is in fact running or now, so the prospect of whether he would actually run remains murky. Latimer just won reelection to his second term as Westchester County executive in 2021 but will be term-limited out of office in 2025.
Latimer’s 2021 victory to serve a second term as County Executive was his 20th consecutive political win, which Black Westchester understands is a history-making moment in New York. He faced off against Republican Christine Sculti and took just under 60% of the vote.

Latimer previously served as a member of the New York State Senate for the 37th District from 2013 to 2017, served on the Rye city council, in the Westchester County legislature, and in the New York State Assembly. Latimer was elected as the Westchester County Executive in November 2017, defeating Incumbent Republican Rob Astorino. As of 2021, Latimer has never lost an election in three decades in public office.

Latimer first ran for public office in 1987; he won a seat on the Rye City Council, finishing first in a field of six major party candidates. Latimer was elevated in 1991 to the Westchester County Board of Legislators, becoming the first-ever Democrat to win the 7th District seat, representing the City of Rye, Village of Larchmont, and Mamaroneck Town and Village. Latimer was re-elected in 1993, 1995, and 1997; in January 1998, Democrats won a majority of seats in the County Board for the first time in 90 years. Latimer was elected to chair the board and was the first Democrat ever to do so. He was re-elected to his legislative seat in 1999 and served a second term as chairman from 2000 to 2001.

Latimer did not seek a third term as chair in 2002, having been re-elected to a sixth term in the Westchester County Legislature.

Westchester County Democrats elected him County Democratic Party Chairman in September 2002, where he served one two-year term. After re-election to the County Legislature in 2003, Latimer sought and won a seat in the New York State Assembly in 2004. In the Assembly, Latimer represented the 91st District, which included the Sound Shore communities of New Rochelle, Rye Brook, and Port Chester alongside the communities of his County Legislative District. He defeated his Republican opponent Vincent Malfetano, with over 68% of the vote, carrying each of the district’s seven cities, towns, and villages. Latimer was re-elected to the Assembly seat without opposition in 2006 and scored 71% of the vote in his 2008 victory over Republican Rob Biagi. Latimer won a fourth Assembly term in 2010, defeating Conservative Republican Bill Reed with 67% of the vote.

Latimer, who was born in Mount Vernon and enjoys the city’s support, could also put a dent in Bowman’s large democratic block on Mount Vernon. And Yonkers as well, since Mayor Mike Spano is not a fan of Bowman. There have also been rumors that Latimer has his eye on the Governor’s seat, the only thing we know for sure is this is his last term as County Executive.

In early July Congressman Jamaal Bowman’s comments about the Police Shooting in New Rochelle of Jarrell Garris, calling the shooting “police brutality,” sparked outrage among Police organizations.

Rep. Bowman also recently announced that he would not be attending the address of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Congress. In a statement, Bowman writes, “My decision to not attend in no way stems from a lack of support for the existence of the State of Israel. On the contrary, it is out of concern that there is no sense of urgency about ensuring the safety and security of all Israelis and Palestinians in the region and finally achieving a two-state solution. This is also an informed decision made out of engagement and deep listening to President Herzog, members of parliament, Israeli and Palestinian scholars, and community members in the region who experienced settler violence and dispossession. While President Herzog has stated settlements should be frozen and claims to oppose settler violence, he has remained silent as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government has expanded settlements that are illegal under international law and has appointed Ministers that seek the anti-democratic annexation of the West Bank and the demise of any two-state solution with the Palestinians.”

“While I appreciate and understand that the invitation to Herzog to speak to Congress over Netanyahu is a strong statement against Netanyahu’s extremist actions, Herzog on his own must answer key questions on how we will arrive at a two-state solution, ending annexation, child detention, home demolition, settler violence and the killing of American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. At this time, although Herzog is viewed as a centrist statesman, he has not yet shown the actions of pro-democracy and a pro-peace agenda. I strongly support a democratic Israel and a Palestinian state that is able to thrive with peace and security.”

Bowman’s comments drew some rebukes from many members of the Jewish community in Westchester, and combined with his comments against the Police, a number of wealthy donors, members of police organizations, and Jewish groups, have begun to look for a candidate who might challenge Bowman in a democratic primary next year.

Despite Latimer’s strong undefeated record, it wouldn’t be wise to count Bowman, who enjoys the support from several grassroots organizations in the county, including the Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus (WBWPC). Bowman has the support of many activists and advocates and has a strong ground game. He did unseat longtime Congressman Eliot Engel in 2020 to become the first African American to represent the district in the House of Representatives and managed to survive a heated race for re-election in 2022, fending off two Westchester County legislators – Vedat Gashi and Catherine Parker in the primary and Republican Dr. Miriam Flisserin the November General Election. In fact, Black Westchester was among the endorsements Bowman received in his bid for re-election. BW has been told a letter-writing campaign from Westchester Progressive is in the works to urge Latimer not to challenge Bowman.

As far as the rebuke from the Jewish community goes, Bowman has never really enjoyed their support on his two victories. in 2022, two former members of Congress known for their support for Israel are backing a challenger to Jamaal Bowman. Both former Rep. Eliot Engel, who was ousted by Bowman in 2020 after 32 years in Congress, and former Rep. Nita Lowey, the retired Jewish lawmaker who represented the northern suburbs and parts of Queens and the Bronx for 32 years, both endorsed Gashi, to no avail. Bowman did enjoy the endorsements of J Street’s PAC and the progressive Jewish group The Jewish Vote.

I wouldn’t be so quick to count out the bold and unapologetic congressman because he has proved he has staying power. Bowman beat Gashi by nearly 30 points.

Anyway, as you slice it, this will be a heavily watched election. Both candidates are known to take a punch and a dominant counter-puncher. As of right now, this is all speculation since Latimer hasn’t officially announced but it would be a great fight. In the potential match-up, who will be the last man standing?

AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief and co-owner of Black Westchester, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Rap Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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