Rep. Cori Bush Facing Challenges In District
Progressive Democrats Reps. Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman, both members of the controversial "Squad", are facing increasing challenges to their re-election bids as the 2022 midterm season heats up.
According to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission, both Bush and Bowman were out-paced in fundraising by their more moderate Democrat opponents. These primary threats come as both representatives have faced scrutiny for their records and controversial statements.
In Missouri's 1st District, Bush, a vocal advocate for defunding the police, is under investigation by the Justice Department for improper use of campaign funds. She narrowly outraised her primary challenger, attorney Wesley Bell, by a margin of just $5,000 in the last quarter of 2023. In response, Bell stated, "Missouri’s 1st District deserves a representative who shows up, does the work, and gets things done." He also highlighted the growing list of endorsements he has received from community members and local officials.
Similarly, in New York's 14th Congressional District, Bowman, who made headlines for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor after pulling a fire alarm in the House, raised about half as much as his opponent George Latimer in the last quarter of 2023. Latimer, a Westchester County Executive who entered the race in December, has received the endorsement of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. This endorsement has been touted as a key factor in Latimer's strong fundraising numbers.
One factor that may have contributed to Latimer's successful fundraising is his connection to Republican donors who are critical of former President Trump. According to a spokesperson for Bowman's re-election campaign, "Latimer's money won’t go as far in a Democratic primary where the electorate wants to hold Donald Trump accountable." This underscores a growing divide in the Democratic Party between those who support Trump and those who oppose him.
Despite their fundraising challenges and controversial remarks, both Bush and Bowman are still considered tough opponents for their respective challengers. However, their defeats in the 2022 midterm elections would signal a shift in the Democratic Party towards more moderate candidates. Mark Mellman, a veteran Democratic pollster and leader of the Democratic Majority for Israel, stated, "It would be good for the party and good for the country if the Squad got smaller."
Criticism of the Squad members' anti-Israel positions has also played a role in their electoral challenges. In particular, Bowman recently lost the endorsement of J Street, a progressive organization that has faced criticism for its alleged favoring of Iran and the Palestinians. J Street rescinded its endorsement of Bowman after he called for a cease-fire and described Israel's military campaign in Gaza as a "genocide". This has sparked a debate within the Democratic Party about the US-Israel relationship and how the party should approach the conflict in the Middle East.
The Squad, made up of progressive representatives including Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, has been a source of contention within the Democratic Party. While they have gained popularity and attention for their outspoken and sometimes controversial statements, they have also faced criticism from moderate Democrats. With the 2022 midterm elections looming and control of Congress at stake, there is a growing effort within the party to attract more centrist voters and distance themselves from the Squad's more radical positions.
Despite these challenges, Bush and Bowman remain confident in their re-election chances. Both representatives have strong grassroots support and are considered rising stars within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. However, their primary challengers, who have garnered respectable fundraising numbers and endorsements, are not to be underestimated.
As the race heats up and tensions within the Democratic Party continue to simmer, it remains to be seen if the Squad will maintain its power and influence or if a shift towards more moderate candidates will take place.