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Jamaal Bowman declares victory over Rep. Eliot Engel in NY primary upset; mail-in ballots still uncounted

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 6/24/2020 By Chris Sommerfeldt, New York Daily News
a man wearing a suit and tie: New York Democratic House candidate Jamaal Bowman greets supporters on June 23, 2020 in Yonkers, New York. Bowman declared victory on Wednesday in his primary battle against Rep. Eliot Engel. © Stephanie Keith/Getty Images North America/TNS New York Democratic House candidate Jamaal Bowman greets supporters on June 23, 2020 in Yonkers, New York. Bowman declared victory on Wednesday in his primary battle against Rep. Eliot Engel.

NEW YORK — Progressive insurgent Jamaal Bowman declared victory on Wednesday in his blockbuster primary battle against Rep. Eliot Engel, charging it’s all but impossible for the longtime congressman to catch up in the voter count despite outstanding absentee ballots.

Bowman, a former Bronx public school principal who was until recently a virtual nobody in the hard-knuckled world of New York politics, trumpeted his self-proclaimed win after Board of Elections tallies put him in the lead over Engel by a tough-to-beat 61% to 34% margin.

“I’m a Black man who was raised by a single mother in a housing project. That story doesn’t usually end in Congress. But today, that 11-year old boy who was beaten by police is about to be your next Representative,” Bowman said in a statement. “I cannot wait to get to Washington and cause problems for the people maintaining the status quo.”

Bowman’s double-digit edge over Engel accounts for nearly all in-person ballots cast in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election. As of Wednesday afternoon, only 34 out the Bronx and Westchester County-spanning 16th District’s 732 polling sites had yet to report Election Day results.

However, while Bowman’s lead is dominating, it does not include any of the thousands of mail-in ballots that are expected to have been cast.

The Board of Elections will take days, or possibly even weeks, to tabulate the mail-in ballots, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that makes all absentee votes valid as long as they were sent in before or on Election Day.

The state allowed all voters the option to apply for mail-in ballots out of health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic. BOE says more than 750,000 mail-in ballot applications were approved in the city alone, though it remains unclear exactly how many were returned. It’s also not clear how many mail-in ballots were cast in each individual primary race.

Engel, a 16-term lawmaker who’s one of the most powerful Democrats in his chamber as the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made clear in a statement issued by his campaign that he’s not conceding despite Bowman’s declaration of victory.

“There are many thousands of absentee ballots that will need to be counted, and that count won’t begin for another six days,” the statement read. “Any declarative statement on the outcome of this race right now is premature and undermines the democratic process. Congressman Engel strongly believes that every absentee ballot should be counted, especially during this pandemic.”

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