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Government & Politics

Mondaire Jones Backs George Latimer Over Incumbent Jamaal Bowman

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June 4, 2024

By Barrett Seaman–

There was a time—right after they first arrived in Congress in January of 2021—when Jamaal Bowman, representing New York’s 16th District, and Mondaire Jones, representing the neighboring 17th—during which many saw them as ideological twins. Both were relatively young, progressive Black politicians who immediately gravitated to the Democrats’ most liberal faction, led by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, backed by the so-called Squad.

Whatever likeness there was then (and there was less than met the eye) was dispelled this week when Jones publicly endorsed Bowman’s primary rival, County Executive George Latimer. “I am proud to endorse George Latimer in his race against Rep. Jamaal Bowman in New York’s 16th Congressional District”, Jones said at a press conference attended by Democratic officials from Greenburgh, Irvington, Tarrytown, Elmsford and Hastings, all of whom also endorsed Latimer. “I have a longstanding relationship with George, and we worked together on a number of important issues for Westchester County when I served in his administration in the County Attorney’s Office,” Jones continued.

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Jones rejects the description of the two men as twins, telling The Hudson Independent, “We were never ideological twins,” pointing out his own role in crafting the Biden Infrastructure bill, which Bowman voted against. The two differ, he said, “both stylistically and substantively—especially on foreign policy.”

At the core of their foreign policy differences is Israel. An outspoken defender of Palestinian rights and their quest for statehood, Bowman has repeatedly attacked Latimer’s unwavering support of Israel, which he says is the result of financial support by AIPAC and other pro-Israel interest groups.

Jones also has strong political motivation for backing Israel. He says 17% of the electorate in his district is Jewish. Rockland County, which comprises a large chunk of CD-17, has the largest per capita Jewish population of any district in the country. His opponent, first-term Republican Mike Lawler, has AIPAC backing, which Jones must neutralize if he is to retake the seat for Democrats. Most pundits see the battle for CD-17 as one of the tightest in the country—whose outcome could well determine which party will control the House.

That said, Jones asserts that his public endorsement of Latimer “was done because of the moral correctness of his position,” adding that “It’s refreshing just to be doing the right thing—whether George wins or not.

Jones’ endorsement of Latimer, which he says he decided to do over Memorial Day weekend, adds to a growing list of Latimer endorsements that includes the majority of elected Democrats in Westchester County as well as more than a dozen labor unions. Bowman, as an incumbent, has the backing of the House leadership in Washington, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and several large unions, including 1199 SEIU, the healthcare workers union, plus two leftist political parties, the Working Families Party and the Democratic Socialists of America. The two men will have a second debate on June 10th.The primary is on June 25th.

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