YONKERS, NY — While tens of thousands of mail-in ballots won't be counted until June 30, Jamaal Bowman is declaring victory in the Democratic primary for Congressional District 16. With 698 of 732 election districts reporting, Bowman holds a commanding lead over incumber Rep. Eliot Engel — 61 percent to 34 percent.
Bowman, 44, of Yonkers, cited the Cook Political Report calling the race in his favor and released a statement Wednesday that said he cannot wait to get to Washington, D.C., "and cause problems for the people maintaining the status quo."
Thousands of ballots are waiting to be counted and will not be counted for a week. New Yorkers got the option of requesting a mail-in ballot for this year's primary over concerns about the new coronavirus pandemic. Mail-in ballots had to have been postmarked by Tuesday and received at the board of elections by June 30.
Bowman said his campaign was anchored in fighting for racial and economic justice.
"We spoke the truth — about the police, about systemic racism, about inequality — and it resonated in every part of the district," he said.
"I'm a Black man who was raised by a single mother in a housing project," Bowman said. "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."
Engel's campaign said any claim of victory is early.
The Engel campaign issued a statement that said it will "continue to closely monitor the collection and counting of absentee ballots and recount of the voting machines over the next week. There are many thousands of absentee ballots that will need to be counted, and that count won't begin for another six days.
"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. In the meantime, the Congressman will continue his work for the people of the Bronx and Westchester," the campaign said.
Bowman has worked for 20 years as a public school teacher and principal. He is the founder and former principal of the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a Bronx public middle school.
Engel, 73, has been in Congress since 1989. Prior to that he served in the state Assembly for 12 years. He is the chairman on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and also serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee including the Subcommittee on Health. He is a lifelong resident of the Bronx.
The 16th Congressional District includes the northern Bronx and Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Scarsdale, Eastchester, Bronxville, Tuckahoe, Pelham, Pelham Manor, Rye, Rye City and parts of Ardsley, Hastings-on-Hudson and Edgemont.