UPDATED: Bowman cruises to Democratic nomination in reshaped NY-16 race

U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman fought off two primary challengers on Tuesday night, comfortably winning by more than a 30%-point margin.
Photo Jewel Webber

It was an easy night at the office for U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, clinching the Democratic nomination for a majority-Westchester congressional district despite challengers with roots in Westchester politics.

The win for Bowman, 46, comes after NY-16 underwent significant geographic shifting due to the state’s redistricting which wiped out much of the Bronx portion of the district – only the neighborhood of Wakefield was left. 

Additional Westchester communities were also drawn into the district, which some pundits thought could leave Bowman, a progressive, vulnerable. The results said otherwise.

“I definitely think that we sent a strong message on Tuesday with our resounding win. ..,” Bowman told the Bronx Times on Wednesday. “People definitely made a lot of the political differences between the people of the Bronx and of Westchester, but what is very clear talking to voters across the district is that by and large, everyone shares the same values.”

According to unofficial returns from the state Board of Elections on Tuesday night, Bowman captured 55% of the vote followed by Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi, who ran a distant second with 23%, and another Westchester legislator, Catherine Parker, who trailed with 18% — 442 of 703 districts in the Bronx and Westchester were reporting at the time of publication.   

Mark Jaffe, the CEO of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce who dropped out of the race but remained on the ballot, finished with less than 2% of the vote. 

Although the Bronx portion of the new district only consisted of 28,350 voters — compared to 218,344 in Westchester — Bowman scored big wins in the borough capturing 2,091 of the 2,298 total votes cast, or 91.9%.

“We came into last night feeling confident but we didn’t take anything for granted — but we also felt confident in 2020,” he said. “We won by over 90% in The Bronx, so we’re glad to still see the support from that community.”

A Yonkers native and former middle school principal, Bowman first entered politics in 2020 with his shocking upset of entrenched, 16-term incumbent Eliot Engel.

During a July 18 debate with the Democratic Committees of White Plains, Mamaroneck and Scarsdale, Bowman said he realized there was only so much he could do as an educator, in turn fueling his run for Congress. 

Over the course of his first term, Bowman said he was able to prove those wrong who told him “a first term member couldn’t get anything done,” pointing to flood mitigation, funding for schools and passing a resolution condemning hate after the July mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket — as legislative wins.

“We brought hundreds of millions of dollars back here to invest in our communities,” he said.

With Tuesday night’s victory, the progressive will now focus on helping Democrats maintain their slim control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in the midterms, which could pave the way for the party to pass women’s reproductive rights, criminal justice reform and voting rights legislation in 2023. 

But before securing a second term in the House, Bowman will face his own midterm challenge in GOP nominee Dr. Miriam Levitt Flisser, a former Scarsdale mayor.

The general election is scheduled for Nov. 8.

This story was updated at 6:59 p.m. on Aug. 24 to reflect comments from Jamaal Bowman.

Reach Christian Falcone at cfalcone@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-2541. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

More from Around NYC