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Jamaal Bowman loses to George Latimer

Jamaal Bowman falls in blow to Squad

After years of failed attempts, anti-Squad forces finally beat a progressive Democratic incumbent.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s (D-N.Y.) defeat at the hands of Westchester County Executive George Latimer struck a bitter blow to the Democratic Party’s far-left flank. Latimer beat Bowman by 17 percentage points. But Latimer’s win isn’t easily replicated across the country. Here’s a look at the unique dynamics behind Bowman’s loss.

Millions in outside spending by AIPAC. The 16th District primary was the most expensive House primary of all time, thanks to more than $14 million in spending from AIPAC’s super PAC. This cycle is the first year that the pro-Israel lobby’s super PAC, the United Democracy Project, is investing heavily in primary campaigns.

The pro-Latimer overwhelming spending advantage was an unprecedented boost for the challenger. As we experienced during a reporting trip to the district last week, attack ads hitting Bowman dominated the local airwaves.

Bowman’s many controversies. Make no mistake: AIPAC wouldn’t have dedicated millions of dollars to a primary challenge unless the incumbent was already vulnerable. Exhibit A: The group barely backed fellow Squad member Rep. Summer Lee’s (D-Pa.) primary opponent earlier this spring.

But Bowman stood out as a prime target because of the litany of negative headlines that hampered him. Bowman pulled a fire alarm during a House vote in 2023. Bowman trafficked in 9/11 conspiracy theories in an old blog. Bowman speculated that reports of Hamas terrorists raping Israelis on Oct. 7 were “propaganda.” (He later apologized). Bowman voted against two of President Joe Biden’s signature legislative compromises — the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

What’s more, Bowman faced internal criticism in his district that he wasn’t focused enough on local issues.

Latimer’s deep local ties. Oftentimes challengers to Squad members are written off as outsiders trying to parachute into the district. But that criticism doesn’t hold water with Latimer, a fixture in Westchester politics for decades. Latimer won the endorsement of numerous local officials and capitalized on his high name recognition to effectively campaign.

Next up for AIPAC’s super PAC is the Aug. 1 primary that pits Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) against UDP-backed challenger Wesley Bell. UDP is signaling that it’s willing to heavily invest again to unseat Bush. Bell is the St. Louis prosecuting attorney and is seen as a serious contender to knock off Bush, who’s under DOJ investigation for hiring her husband as a security guard.

In other primary news:

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah) defeated former President Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate to win the Republican Senate primary in Utah.

Rep. Celeste Maloy (R-Utah) is ahead of GOP challenger Colby Jenkins by just four points. Maloy, who was elected in November, had Trump’s endorsement. Jenkins had the backing of Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Former CNN anchor John Avlon won the Democratic nomination to take on vulnerable Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) in the 1st District. In the 22nd District, state Sen. John Mannion will face endangered GOP Rep. Brandon Williams.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) won the Republican primary for Colorado’s 4th District, successfully switching districts and avoiding a potentially tough general election rematch against Adam Frisch in the 3rd District. Republican Greg Lopez won a special election in the 4th District to fill the rest of former Rep. Ken Buck’s (R-Colo.) term.

Put together, the victories by Latimer, Curtis and Maloy indicate that the center is holding in 2024.

Also: The House will consider three FY 2025 appropriations bills this week — Defense, State-Foreign Operations and Homeland Security. The House Rules Committee has made 329 amendments in order. Not all of these amendments will get a vote on the floor. Here’s the list of amendments.

There are a large number of technical amendments aimed at specific programs, especially on the Defense bill. There are also a slew of “culture war” amendments from hardline conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus.

Plus, some Republicans want to cut the salaries of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to just $1. Other Biden administration officials are also targeted. This won’t happen.

One amendment that won’t be considered: Montana GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale’s provision that would bar the Pentagon from spending money on IVF. Rosendale said IVF is “morally wrong.”

All three spending bills are opposed by House Democratic leaders, and the White House has threatened a veto if they ever get to Biden’s desk.

— Max Cohen and John Bresnahan

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.