Ocasio-Cortez backs Engel’s challenger in primary

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Despite a less-than-stellar record on past endorsements, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said Wednesday that she was going to throw her support behind Rep. Eliot Engel’s primary challenger.

“This moment requires renewed and revitalized leadership across the country AND at the ballot box,” she tweeted, as she lent her support to Jamaal Bowman, an educator.

Earlier this year, Ocasio-Cortez announced the Courage to Change PAC, which was seen at the time as a threat to established Democrats. Despite her freshman status in the House, she is popular and her endorsement is seen as a gateway to the younger vote. Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, once called Ocasio-Cortez one of the most powerful politicians in Washington.

She called Bowman, who is African-American, “a profound community leader.” Engel’s district has mostly black and Hispanic voters.

Engel has reported raising more than $1.6 million through March, about triple Bowman’s haul. But Engel has been accused of spending insufficient time in his district, and Bowman’s challenge is considered legitimate.

Engel was also caught on a hot mic Tuesday saying he “wouldn’t care” about not being allowed to speak at a news conference about the unrest in his Bronx district following the death of George Floyd — if he wasn't in a competitive Democratic primary.

“If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care,” Engel can be heard telling Bronx President Ruben Diaz twice, as he asks for a chance to speak at a news conference with city and state officials.


Engel later explained his comments to an NY1 reporter: “In the context of running for reelection, I thought it was important for people to know where I stand, that's why I asked to speak. Of course, I care deeply about what's happening in this country, that's what I wanted to convey. I love the Bronx, grew up in the Bronx and lived here all my life," he said. “I would not have tried to impose on the borough president if I didn't think it was important.”

Fox News' Morgan Phillips and the Associated Press contributed to this report