Electing Democrats used to be something Barack Obama did all the time. And two terms as President of the United States isn’t going to stop that.
Obama announced a string of down-ballot endorsements Monday for the general election, including one for Jamaal Bowman in his quest to succeed Eliot Engel in New York’s 16th Congressional District.
Bowman announced the endorsement with a video from his car on social media. There, he revealed the backing came with a phone call from the president himself, praising Bowman on a letter to the editor he published in The Riverdale Press.
“This is a huge endorsement,” Bowman told his supporters on Monday. “It’s symbolic, and it allows us to push this movement forward.”
Obama read the letter Bowman wrote to Hebrew Institute of Riverdale rabbi Avi Weiss that was published a week before the June primary. Weiss, through the help of supporters, published a letter to Bowman in The Press in the form of an advertisement since he missed the open submission deadline.
In his letter, Weiss questioned Bowman’s support of Israel, citing some of the opposition to current Middle East policy maintained by others who endorsed Bowman during the campaign, including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“Our community is proud of its commitment to American values including, of course, racial harmony and equality for all,” Weiss said. “And amongst the issues most important to us is the well being of the state of Israel, one of America’s greatest allies.
“Unfortunately, your comments on Israel have fallen far, far short.”
Bowman, however, admitted his views on Israel differed from that of the rabbi, but believed they were positions still worth considering and discussing.
“As a Black man living in America, there is nothing I value more than people struggling for the rights enshrined in their democracy in solidarity with other peoples,” Bowman wrote in his response, read by Obama.
“My experiences in this country shape my values and guide my thinking on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the rising tide of anti-Semitism in America.”
Bowman may have won the June primary, but he still has to win the November general election. However, he’s expected to have no problem defeating Conservative Party challenger Patrick McManus.