Progressive Jamaal Bowman defeats House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel in Democratic primary

Dareh Gregorian
New York Congressional candidate Jamaal Bowman campaigns the day before election day on June 22, 2020 in Edenwald Houses in the Bronx borough in New York City.
Stephanie Keith | Getty Images

Jamaal Bowman, a progressive candidate running in his first ever political campaign, has defeated longtime Rep. Eliot Engel in the New York Democratic primary, according to an Associated Press tally.

Bowman's victory over Engel in New York's 16th Congressional District is a mirror image of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's stunning upset win over longtime Rep. Joe Crowley in the 15th district in 2018. Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Bowman over her congressional colleague before the June 23 primary.

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Bowman, a 44-year-old father of three, centered his campaign on racial injustice and human rights.

"Coming into the campaign, we felt that structural racism, institutional racism, institutional classism, institutional sexism and militarism are the evils that continue to plague American society generally," he told NBC News last month.

The win is a major victory for the progressive wing of the party. In addition to AOC, Bowman, who resigned as the principal of a middle school in the Bronx to focus full time on his race, was endorsed by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Engel, a New York congressman since 1989, was backed by former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Bowman had been leading in the vote count since the night of the June 23 primary, but a surge in absentee voting as a result of the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a delay in the final results. Under New York state law, absentee votes can't begin to be counted until one week after the primary.