In a political case of what was good for the goose may be good for the gander, a Bronx, N.Y., middle school principal is hoping the same political action committee that helped propel Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Washington, D.C., will do the same for him.
Jamaal Bowman has won the endorsement of Justice Democrats, CNN reports, in his bid to primary Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who has served in the House since 1989.
Justice Democrats is a progressive PAC that has played a role in the political victories of not only Ocasio-Cortez, but also Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and those of the first Muslim women in Congress, Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, according to CNN.
In announcing his candidacy, Bowman touted his experience as the founding principal of a community school in the Bronx and said he was for such progressive ideas as the Green New Deal to fight climate change and making public college free:
“Like all educators, we face the most damning challenges every day. We work with children and families who suffer from poverty, asthma from pollution, homelessness, lack of health care,” Bowman said in his video, also referencing his wife, who is an educator as well.
Like the incumbent Ocasio-Cortez faced in her quest for a seat in the House, Bowman’s target, Rep. Engel, is a seasoned politician and chair of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, who, according to CNN, has “rarely faced” a serious primary challenge in his 16 terms in the House, explaining:
He won his primary with nearly 74% of the vote in 2018 and won the general election with 100% of the vote. It was a similar story in 2016, when he won almost 95% of the vote in the general election.
However, Bowman is undaunted, as Chalkbeat reports in profiling the aspiring politician:
Bowman is counting, in part, on his 20 years of experience in education to appeal to voters. Long before throwing his hat in the political rink, Bowman started The Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, or CASA, a middle school that has produced notable academic results despite serving mostly disadvantaged students.
He has been a vocal supporter of the opt-out movement boycotting state testing, especially within the black community. Bowman has also pushed for discipline reform, favoring restorative practices such as mediation in his school, rather than suspensions, which are disproportionately meted out, city data shows, to students of color. He’s also a big believer in the importance high-quality, early childhood care and education. A favorite word of Bowman is ‘holistic’ — an approach he likes to see in schools and one he’d like to see in government.
According to Chalkbeat, Bowman says the challenges he’s seen his students face every day have propelled him to run in part, saying:
“Because of bad policy, because of a lack of resources, because of a lack of opportunities presented to them in their communities — they don’t get a chance to realize their unlimited potential.
When I hear about mass shootings, when I hear about kids overdosing on drugs, when I see my own students who have had their parents deported because of recent immigration policy, or some of their parents were murdered in the streets — it’s all of those issues combined that pushed me to take this step.”