Over the past few weeks, Elliot Engel, the long-entrenched Democratic representative from District 16 in New York, has been gaffing his way back into the public eye. Engel’s complacency as a politician has come into question since Bronx, New York principal Jamaal Bowman entered the primary against the 16-year rep this past summer. Bowman represents a progressive challenger—not unlike Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s challenge against and victory over Rep. Joe Crowley in 2018.
And that similarity has not gone unnoticed by many progressives. On Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Bowman in the primary against Engel. The endorsement brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to Bowman’s campaign, a serious boon to him after having been out-funded by Engel by millions. Now Engel, the incumbent and up-until-recently favorite, is acting like someone in serious trouble. On Sunday, reporter Dave Weigel posted a video of Engel attacking Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement of Bowman as … a dictatorship?
“This is not a dictatorship. This is a democracy. We shouldn’t have one person, from high, even though she’s a colleague of mine, think that she can anoint whoever’s elected.”
This is an interesting thing coming from a man who has been in Congress since 1989. That’s 31 years. Eliot’s “on-high” terminology is also intriguing after being called out, and profiled, for his absence from his district—the location of some of the first big U.S. outbreaks from COVID-19—for months.
Eliot Engel talking about @AOC endorsement of his opponent at a candidate forum today:
"This is not a dictatorship. This is a democracy. We shouldn't have one person, from high, even though she's a colleague of mine, think that she can anoint whoever's elected." pic.twitter.com/PPvOU3ohfH
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) June 7, 2020
The very popular Ocasio-Cortez is facing a well-funded primary challenge this year because big money likes the way things are going for big money. The status quo has been good for those at the very top and they would like nothing more than to maintain our country’s business as usual approach to conflict and problems. You can enjoy watching Engel speak his mind about what he does and does not care about below.
Engel has been reeling this past week after a television crew captured him telling Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. that if he wasn’t facing a primary challenge, Engel wouldn’t care about the need for him to appear in support of the George Floyd protests. Engel told reporters that the statement he was making was about imposing on the “Borough President,” but audio and visual evidence of the interaction seems to say otherwise.