While the Democratic Party attempts to portray a united front ahead of an important presidential election, there is clearly a power struggle between its far-left and more moderate wings.
That tension was on full display with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent endorsement of U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), who is facing a Democratic primary challenger already endorsed by some prominent progressive politicians.
“I have worked with Eliot”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has thrown her weight behind challenger Jamaal Bowman, who has also received support from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, The Hill notes.
For Clinton, however, Engel continues to represent the best path for a party that seems to be increasingly lurching to the left.
“I have worked with Eliot as first lady, as senator from New York, and as secretary of state,” the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said, according to The Hill. “Every step of the way, his number-one priority has remained the same: delivering for his constituents.”
Of course, Engel did his own campaign no favors when he was caught on an open mic expressing his apparent political motives for wanting to address a crowd protesting the death of George Floyd.
Our cameras were rolling as @RepEliotEngel asked BP @rubendiazjr if he could speak at a press event this afternoon and was heard saying “if I didn’t have a primary I wouldn’t care.” (Cont…) @News12BX pic.twitter.com/7IeK5PgeNg
— Kurt Semder (@KurtSemder) June 2, 2020
“A powerful advocate”
In addition to capitalizing on Engel’s misstep and the endorsement of several prominent Democrats, Bowman pulled in about $200,000 in campaign donations during a two-day period earlier this month.
Sanders, who challenged Clinton in the 2016 presidential primary, released a statement explaining why he favored the former middle-school principal.
“Jamaal understands that low-income families are locked out of opportunity and a decent life due to a system that is rigged to benefit the wealthy,” the Vermont senator said, according to The Hill. “In Congress he will lead the fight for investing in our public schools, ending mass incarceration, and addressing the housing crisis. He is someone we can trust to be a powerful advocate for a progressive agenda in Congress.”
This is not the first race in which elected officials including Ocasio-Cortez have embraced a more progressive stance than many of the party’s elder statesmen and women.
With such a stark difference on display following Clinton’s endorsement, this primary election might be a snapshot of what lies ahead for Democrats nationally.