Tag Archives: Rep. Eliot Engel

MA-1: Will Rep. Neal Become #9?

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Richard Neal (left) finds himself defending his seat against credible Democratic challenger Alex Morse.

Aug. 25, 2020 — The intense Democratic Senate primary battle between incumbent Sen. Ed Markey and challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton), is not the only Massachusetts competitive intra-party campaign to be decided in the upcoming Sept. 1 nomination election.

House Ways & Means Committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) finds himself defending his seat against credible Democratic challenger Alex Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, a city of 40,000-plus people located just eight miles north of Springfield on I-391. Neal is clearly taking this primary seriously and fighting hard to avoid being the ninth House incumbent denied re-nomination in the 2020 election cycle.

Rep. Neal has already spent $4.3 million for his re-nomination campaign as reported in the Aug. 12 pre-primary Federal Election Commission campaign finance disclosure report. Conversely, Mayor Morse has spent just over $1 million, but the contest still appears close.

Now, an outside organization, Democratic Majority for Israel, has launched an attack television ad that hit Morse for a poor attendance record at Holyoke City Council meetings while claiming the local schools are among the lowest performing in Massachusetts. They cite, in support of their contention, the state government coming into the Holyoke district and assuming control of their education system.

Earlier, controversy arose when the College Democrats organization at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, located within the 1st District, accused Morse of sexual impropriety, which resulted in an immediate loss of local and national support. The move backfired, however, when it came to light that no such incidents had occurred during the times when Morse appeared at the university both as a candidate and previously a guest lecturer.

This challenge appears typical of the other three Democratic primaries where candidates successfully opposed veteran incumbents from the political left armed with money and support from national activists and progressive organizations. The three such challenges that transformed into upsets came at the expense of Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL; 8 terms), Eliot Engel (D-NY; 16 terms), and Lacy Clay (D-MO; 10 terms). Whether the Morse effort proves as successful remains to be determined.

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Eight Men Out

By Jim Ellis

Poster for the movie, “Eight Men Out”

Aug. 20, 2020 — The 1988 movie “Eight Men Out” about the 1919 baseball World Series carries a title that also aptly describes the 2020 congressional primary season. At this early point in the voting cycle, already eight US House members have been denied re-nomination, which will oust them from office — a large number when comparing to typical campaign years.

It’s worth noting these results because the incumbent defeats are geographically widespread and not confined to one party. Of the eight, five are Republicans, three are Democrats, and each come from different states.

Looking at the eight campaigns, however, only two reasons largely explain the incumbent losses within the respective intra-party elections: ideology and ethics.

Florida Freshman Rep. Ross Spano (R-Dover) from his Lakeland-anchored district this past Tuesday is the latest to lose. The others are, chronologically from the beginning: Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Steve King (R-IA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Steve Watkins (R-KS), Lacy Clay (D-MO), and Spano.

In each case, the Democratic losses are ideologically driven. In Illinois, New York, and Missouri, veteran Democrats lost their seats to challengers from the far left, all backed by the Justice Democrats PAC that is loosely associated with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The insurgent campaign strategy in each case was to cast the incumbent as not being sufficiently progressive in addition to more specific attacks.

In Illinois back in March, media consultant Marie Newman returned to again challenge Rep. Lipinski after losing to him 51-49 percent in the 2018 Democratic primary. Rep. Lipinski, an eight-term Chicago suburban congressional veteran whose father held the seat for 22 years before him, had established a moderate record — yet even moving left for the current term couldn’t stop the coming trend. Turnout increased 16 percent when compared to the 2018 primary, and Newman flipped a 49-51 percent loss into a 47-45 percent victory.

Eliot Engel represented the Bronx in Congress for what will be 32 years after serving for 12 years in the New York State Assembly. Aided by Engel campaign mistakes, middle school principal Jamaal Bowman swept to victory with strong assistance from the Justice Democrats. The key themes here were Engel losing touch with his constituents and being out of step with today’s Democratic Party.

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Committee Continuity – Part II

By Jim Ellis

July 29, 2020 — Completing our two-part series on changes we may see on some key House and Senate committee panels, today we look at the financial, commerce, and legal committees.


SENATE COMMERCE, SCIENCE & TRANSPORTATION

Republicans – Just three of the 14 majority Republicans are on the ballot this year, and two are in competitive races. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) is in one of the most difficult campaigns in the country, while Alaska first-term incumbent Dan Sullivan (R) is a clear favorite to win in November despite early polling showing a potentially close race. There are no open seats among the Republican committee members.

Democrats – The Democrats have 12 members, and Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell would replace chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) if her party assumes control in November.

The Dems also have just three of their Commerce Committee members in-cycle, and two are in competitive campaigns. First-term Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) faces a difficult challenge from manufacturing company owner John James (R). Sen. Peters appears secure in polling now, but the race is likely to close. The contest was in toss-up mode before the COVID shutdown. The other competitive race is a Democratic primary, as Sen. Ed Markey faces a difficult toss-up challenge from Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton).


HOUSE ENERGY & COMMERCE

Democrats – This is one of the most important committees in the House, and majority Democrats hold a 31-24 advantage. The Dems are looking at four vacancies as Reps. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM-3) and Joe Kennedy III (D-MA-4) are running for the Senate, Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA-2) is retiring, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) was defeated in the June 23 New York primary. Just one majority member, Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-1), could face a competitive opponent. The Arizona primary is Aug. 4, and we will know more once we see who wins the Republican nomination.

Republicans – Six Republicans will leave the House at the end of this term, including Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR-2). Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT-AL) is running for governor, while Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL-15), Pete Olson (R-TX-22), Bill Flores (R-TX-17), and Susan Brooks (R-IN-5) are retiring. Michigan Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI-6) and Tim Walberg (R-MI-7) have credible opponents, and Shimkus, particularly, is embroiled in a tough race. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC-8) also has drawn an opponent of stature, but he remains a heavy favorite for re-election.
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NY-16: Poll Finds Rep. Engel Trailing

Jamaal Bowman campaign-financed attack ad example against veteran Rep. Eliot Engel, hitting him for remaining in Maryland during the rise in COVID-19 cases and then only returning to the district when his political position became endangered


By Jim Ellis

June 19, 2020 — An internal poll for New York Congressional District 16 challenger Jamaal Bowman suggests we could see an upset in next Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

As the race between Bowman, a former middle school principal, and veteran Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) becomes more contentious and competitive, the challenger’s campaign this week publicized the results of their recent Data for Progress survey (released June 17; 525 NY-16 likely Democratic primary voters). The poll projects Bowman as establishing a clear lead over Rep. Engel, who was first elected to the House in 1988 after spending the previous 12 years in the New York state Assembly.

The DfP data shows Bowman holding a 41-31 percent lead over Congressman Engel in the closing days of the Democratic primary. When asked of the 27 percent who responded that they were still undecided, 40 percent of those individuals indicated they were leaning toward Bowman as compared to just 18 percent who said the same of Rep. Engel. Adding leaners to the secondary ballot test produces a substantial 52-36 percent advantage for Bowman.

The Engel campaign questions the accuracy of the Data for Progress survey because the questionnaire only gave respondents the choice of Bowman and Rep. Engel, even though two other candidates are also on the primary ballot.

Looking deeper at the data, Bowman leads Rep. Engel 56-10 percent among African Americans and 37-29 percent among Hispanics. Rep. Engel maintains an advantage with white voters, 52-30 percent. The district’s Citizen Voting Age population segments as 43.1 percent white, 31.2 percent black, and 20.0 percent Hispanic.

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NY-16: Jamaal Bowman, the New AOC?

Democratic NY-16 candidate Jamaal Bowman political ad

By Jim Ellis

June 5, 2020 — In the New York City district adjacent to Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez’s Bronx-anchored congressional seat, a new candidate challenging another veteran Democratic congressman in an upcoming primary election is emerging into a political threat.

Late this week, Rep. Ocascio-Cortez endorsed Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal who is opposing 16-term US Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) for New York’s 16th District Democratic nomination.

Accompanying the AOC endorsement were pledges to spend $500,000 between now and the June 23 primary from her affiliated Justice Democrats Super PAC and the Working Families Party to support Bowman’s campaign to replace Rep. Engel. Additionally, another chief Democratic opponent, local NYC educator Andom Ghebreghiorgis, ended his campaign and endorsed Bowman.

Inadvertently providing more momentum to the Bowman campaign, Engel made a major mistake when he was picked up on video telling Bronx Borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr. that he needed to address the organized borough news conference about the George Floyd killing. When Diaz said he (Engel) wouldn’t be allowed to speak because none of the many elected officials attending the session would be addressing the media and audience, the congressman responded saying, “I wouldn’t care but I have a primary.”

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