Froma Harrop

Jamaal Bowman’s loss was the Democrats’ gain.

A member of the left-fringe Squad, his primary defeat removes at least one irritant to the Democrats’ quest to take control of the House. And if his replacement with a moderate marks the beginning of the end for the Squad, well, bravo for the victor, Westchester County executive George Latimer.

New York’s 16th Congressional District includes some New York suburbs plus a slice of the Bronx. Squad founder Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the old Socialist Bernie Sanders thought it a good idea to hold a rally for Bowman in the South Bronx.

Never mind that the South Bronx wasn’t part of Bowman’s district. Ritchie Torres represents that area. Perhaps Bowman figured his working-class audience would relate to his obscenity-filled rants. Torres thought otherwise.

“There is nothing in Jamaal Bowman’s unhinged tirade,” Torres posted on X, “that remotely resembles the decency of the people I know and represent in the South Bronx.”

Bowman insisted that as a Black, he has an “ethnic benefit.” Well, Torres is half-Black, half-Latino, and former New York Rep. Mondaire Jones is Black. Both Torres and Jones endorsed Latimer, a 70-year-old white guy who happens to have experience in governing.

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Bowman seems to have forgotten that a congressman is supposed to do a thing called constituent service, that is, providing help to the people in the district. The people rarely saw him.

“He doesn’t really study government,” Latimer said at a recent event for seniors. “He doesn’t really understand it. He’s out there on a soap box, talking what he feels.”

AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group, spent a lot of money trying to get Bowman defeated. Headlines say they’re the reason he lost. But it took more than AIPAC to produce an incumbent’s 17-point loss.

No doubt their barrage of ads played a part, but Bowman’s views on Israel were worse than incendiary; they were ignorant. It’s one thing to criticize Israel’s conduct in the Gaza war. It’s another to question the claim that Hamas committed sexual violence in its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, as Bowman did.

Bowman clearly has some screws loose. He gave voice to a looney conspiracy theory related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on New York City. The Daily Beast unearthed Bowman’s blog post passing on the paranoid belief that the collapse of Building 7, a skyscraper in the World Trade Center complex, was a controlled demolition.

As a congressman, he famously set off a fire alarm in a House office building, juvenile-delinquent style. This was done, it is believed, to delay a scheduled vote on a government funding bill. Of course, the building had to be evacuated.

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Bowman first lied about setting off the alarm. Then when security cameras caught him in the act, he lied about not knowing what it was. You’d think that a former middle school principal would know what a fire alarm looked like.

Bowman had joined AOC in voting against Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill — a tantrum over one of their priorities being left out. To this day, unions have not forgiven either of them for that.

Perhaps the biggest problem for Bowman is that his challenger is a man of substance. As a county executive, Latimer makes budgets, manages essential services, including public safety, and sees that the laws are enforced.

AOC, Bernie and Bowman apparently chose the South Bronx for its symbolic value. And it all fits. Their posturing was for the cameras, not the 16th district’s constituents who happened to live elsewhere.

The Squad suffers a serious lack of quality control, and Bowman isn’t its only flawed product. May moderate Democrats continue to replace them.

Froma Harrop can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.

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