As the June primary gets closer, the educator who appears to be Eliot Engel’s primary challenger for his long-time congressional seat has ramped up calls for Engel not only to debate him, but also to give back some of his campaign money.
A number of political organizations who have backed Bowman are demanding Engel return $5,600 donated by billionaire Daniel Loeb, claiming the hedge fund manager is “one of the most pernicious influences in New York state.”
Organizations making the demand include the New York Working Families Party, Make the Road Action, New York Communities for Change, Alliance for Quality Education, The Jewish Vote, and New York Progressive Action Network.
“Loeb has a long history of making racist comments toward people of color who disagree with his racial ideology,” the groups said in a joint statement. “If Rep. Engel wants to stand up to the anti-public schools lobby, he should return the money.”
A spokesman for Engel’s campaign didn’t return a request for comment. Loeb couldn’t be reached for comment.
The group cited a 2017 social media post they say Loeb accused then state senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins as having done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood,” in what the group says compared Stewart Cousins — an African American woman — to the Ku Klux Klan.
The group claims that wasn’t the first time Loeb invoked the KKK in a social media post, a year earlier, reportedly calling teacher unions the “biggest single force standing in the way of quality education, and an organization that has done more to perpetuate poverty and discrimination against people of color than the KKK.”
Even if Engel returned the money, the move would be symbolic, and make no dent in the more than $1 million in his campaign war chest as of March 31, according to the Federal Election Commission. Bowman has just $217,000 on-hand, while another challenger — Andom Ghebreghiorgis — is ready to spend a little under $80,000.
Chris Fink has raised less than Ghebreghiorgis, but has $82,500 to spend, while Samuel Ravelo has only $320 left.