Wednesday, June 03, 2020

I Wonder Where Eliot Engel Is Today-- And So Do His Constituents!


Old school New Dem Eliot Engel has been weathering the pandemic in the wealthy suburban neighborhood where he lives-- in Maryland-- and leaving the residents of his hard hit district-- which includes part of the Bronx and the three cities in Westchester with the highest number of COVID cases-- on their own. Last week Edward-Issac Dovere blew the whistle on Engel in an embarrassing piece at The Atlantic,, Why This Democrat Won’t Go Home
A member of Congress since 1989, Engel is facing his first serious primary challenge in years, in a district next door to the one where Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated another longtime incumbent in a primary two years ago. Yet Engel hasn’t been in his district since at least the end of March, according to his communications director, Bryant Daniels. The congressman himself told me that he has been in New York, after I covered my nose and mouth and rang his doorbell in Potomac, Maryland.

“I’m in both places,” Engel said.

“You are?” I asked.

“I sure am,” he said.

“You’ve been quarantined in both places?”

“Sure have.”

Daniels later told me, “He’s remained in Washington since passage of the CARES Act.” The CARES Act passed on March 27. When I pressed for when Engel was last in the district, Daniels stopped responding.

Few congressional districts in America have seen more COVID-19 infections and deaths than Engel’s.
Yesterday, the Bronx had 109 new cases and Westchester had 81 . The day before that the Bronx had 108 new cases and Westchester had 71. Not good news. Does Engel even care? Or does he just concern himself with what's going on in internal Israeli politics and how that impacts his one and only real constituent, Benjamin Netanyahu? (Israel had 116 new cases yesterday and 98 the day before.)

Yesterday, Shane Golmacher reporting for the NY Times wrote that at a press conference Tuesday Engel was caught on a live mic twice saying what plenty of people in his district have known for years: "If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care."  
[B]efore the news conference began, Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx borough president and organizer of the event, ran through the list of planned speakers to the assembled politicians. The microphone was already broadcasting.

“I cannot have all the electeds talk because we will never get out of here,” Mr. Diaz said.

Mr. Engel pressed his case for a turn. “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care,” he said, repeating, “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.”

Goal ThermometerFirst elected to Congress in 1988, Mr. Engel, who is the chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, will face voters again in New York’s primary elections on June 23. His opposition began to consolidate this week as one of his leading rivals, Andom Ghebreghiorgis, dropped out and endorsed Jamaal Bowman, a Bronx school principal.
Jamaal has also been endorsed by Blue America and you can contribute to his campaign by clicking on the 2020 congressional thermometer on the right. Questioned by Goldmacher, Jamaal said Engel's comments were "painful to watch.... We need to be taking care of our communities right now-- whether it's election season or not. It's clear that we need new leadership in NY-16." A Bowman staffer told him Tuesday had been its single biggest fund-raising day of the campaign, with more than 1,000 donations in about three hours.

I bet Engel wishes he had stayed home in Maryland! I wonder if he voted in the Maryland primary yesterday; probably not.

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