In a pricy and controversial election, George Latimer defeated incumbent Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D) to represent New York’s 16th congressional district on Tuesday night.

Latimer, the Westchester County executive, defeated Bowman, a member of the House “squad” of progressive representatives. This marks the first defeat of a “squad” lawmaker.

Latimer’s campaign was heavily backed by pro-Israel groups. He argued throughout his campaign that Bowman’s opposition to the war in Gaza and his aggressive political style was not aligned with the significant Jewish populations in the district.

Bowman called for a ceasefire in Gaza and told a group of pro-Palestine protestors that allegations of sexual abuse by Hamas were “propaganda.” He later apologized for this statement.

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J-Street, a liberal pro-Israel group, rescinded their support for Bowman following these remarks.

Latimer criticized Bowman’s stance on the war, commenting that his constituency should be in Dearborn, Michigan, a midwest city with an Arab-American majority.

Bowman won the seat in 2020 after beating Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, a pro-Israel politician. 

Latimer celebrated his victory and discussed unity in his speech to supporters.

“We have to fight to make sure that we do not vilify each other, that we remember that we’re all Americans and that our common future is bound together,” Latimer said. “This country cannot afford to splinter into little pieces, and every single representative has to understand the necessity for unity so that we can move forward as a nation.”

Bowman admitted his defeat and gave his remarks at his gathering.

“We mustn’t ever stop. This race was never about me and me alone. It was never about this district and this district alone,” Bowman said. “It was always about all of us. Now, our opponents, not opponents, may have won this round now, in this place. But this will be a battle for our humanity and justice for the rest of our lives.

Adimpact, a research firm, reported that this was the most expensive House primary ever recorded. Through the campaign, the United Democracy Project spent approximately $15 million, the Democratic Majority for Israel spent more than $1 million, and Fairshake spent over $2 million.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) discussed the heavy spending in this election and the impacts it may have at a Bowman rally on Saturday.

“This election is one of the most important in the modern history of America. It really is,” Sanders said. “Because this election is not about Jamaal vs. Mr. Latimer. This election concerns whether the billionaire class and the oligarchs will control the United States government.”

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