FILE PHOTO: Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Eliot Engel (D-NY) speaks during a media briefing after a House vote approving rules for an impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 31, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday boosted the election prospects of relatively-unknown challenger Jamaal Bowman to 16-term incumbent Democratic Representative Eliot Engel in November’s elections, as congressional campaigns heat up.
In a posting on Twitter, Sanders, an independent who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020, announced his backing of Bowman, who is trying to unseat the chairman of the powerful House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
Engel, 73, was first elected to Congress in 1988 and won re-election in 2018 with 99% of the vote.
Sanders, a leading voice in progressive politics, tweeted that Bowman, a school principal, would “fight to invest in public schools, end mass incarceration, and address the housing crisis.”
The New York Democratic primary will be held on June 23, with the winner likely to be victorious in November in the heavily Democratic district covering parts of New York City’s Bronx borough and of neighboring Westchester county.
Bowman also captured the endorsement of another leading progressive, Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
As a leading voice on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Engel sometimes has been a moderating influence on foreign policy, according to the Almanac of American Politics, at a time when the progressive movement within the Democratic Party has been ascendant.
Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Tom Brown