Featured PiecePoliticsThe White Plains Examiner

Bowman, Latimer Clash in Tension-Filled Congressional Debate

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

We are part of The Trust Project
Rep. Jamaal Bowman and Westchester County Executive George Latimer had multiple heated exchanges during their debate earlier this week more than a month before the Democratic primary in the 16th Congressional District. News12 Westchester photo

Rep. Jamaal Bowman and Westchester County Executive George Latimer engaged in a hotly contested debate this week, more than a month before the 16th Congressional District’s Democratic primary in June.

Hosted and aired live by News12 Westchester in its White Plains studio in front of a live audience, the two candidates addressed substantive issues but also hurled accusations against one another.

Questions were posed by anchor Tara Rosenblum and audience members.

The war between Israel and Hamas took center stage at the beginning of the debate. The district which includes White Plains, the southern half of Westchester County and a portion of the north Bronx, is home to one of the nation’s largest Jewish communities, while also having a growing Arab community. Bowman and Latimer agreed that there needs to be a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, but they disagreed on how that could happen.

“We can work towards a two-state solution and not give lip service to it, which is what people have been doing for decades,” said Bowman, who is in his second term. “We can have a free Palestine and fight antisemitism here through education and connecting communities.”

Latimer recounted the wars Israel has fought since being established in 1948, but stressed that an end to the current war with Hamas would necessitate the release of over 100 hostages.

“This is not a one-sided issue which the incumbent has taken at this time,” Latimer said. “We need to work through legislative bodies and influence the president to have negotiations between Israeli and Arab communities, which is the surest direction to peace.”

A high school sophomore in the audience asked about how to have greater public safety.

Bowman said public safety was connected to poverty in communities that have been neglected. To reverse that trend, investments must be made in mental health supports, substance abuse, education and workforce development.

He attacked Latimer by saying “my opponent has defunded mental health over this time as county executive and he doesn’t see a public health approach as the right way to go.”

Latimer shot back “My opponent doesn’t know his facts. He didn’t even mention the police presence I’ve seen in the Bronx in the 47th and 45th precincts, additional police effort that works in harmony with the community and is able to give people a better sense of protection.”

Latimer claimed Bowman voted against a bill that would have funded local small police departments and that Bowman has sided with lightning-rod Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a staunch Republican who supports former President Donald Trump.

Bowman defended his vote.

“They increased police funding over several decades and we still have the same problems and all we’ve been doing is funding the police,” Bowman said. “We need investments in mental health.”

Exchanges between the two candidates became more heated during the second half of the nearly hour-long debate when Bowman and Latimer physically faced each other when arguing about women’s reproductive rights.

Then Bowman accused Latimer of taking campaign donations from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), known for its Republican megadonors who support anti-abortion laws and are against reproductive rights for women.

“You’re the number one recipient of AIPAC money in the country. AIPAC is funded by right wing Republicans who want to destroy our democracy,” Bowman asserted.

“When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, we advocated for the impeachment of (Justice) Clarence Thomas and Supreme Court reform. We have to do everything in our power to fight against MAGA Republicans.”

Latimer turned toward Bowman and accused him of taking money from various Political Action Committees that also supported Republicans.

“The bottom line is look at the actions of the individual. His actions prove that he is a lot of talk,” Latimer said. “He’s attacking me because he has a weak record in Congress.”

Bowman lambasted Latimer for not caring about gun violence by neglecting Yonkers and Mount Vernon.

“That’s where Black and brown people live in poverty and how this district has struggled with gun violence,” he said.

Latimer stressed that working on a legislative body and forming coalitions was the most effective way for change.

“You can’t preach and scream at them on the steps of the Capitol,” Latimer said, inducing Bowman to raise his arms and exclaim “The angry Black man, the angry Black man. It’s the southern strategy in the north.”

A spat ensued after Latimer listed how the county helped incentivize access to affordable housing resulting in Bowman slamming the county executive saying he could have done more.

Both candidates were given one minute for their closing remarks. Latimer spoke of how he grew up in Mount Vernon and how his work ethic helped him get ahead, which represents the American story.

“If you send me to Washington I’ll work as hard as I did in Albany, as hard as I’ve done as county executive,” he said. “The record we have in Westchester County is an exemplary record. I’m not worried about who gives me donations; I’m worried about whether I can achieve anything in a system that’s broken.”

Bowman was emphatic on how Latimer was being funded AIPAC.

“My opponent is in the pocket and bought and paid for by AIPAC, which is funded by the same Republicans who supported insurrectionists,” Bowman said. “The same Republicans who are against voting rights and reproductive rights. We don’t take money from special interests because we represent the working-class people of the district who have been neglected by my opponent and those in office for far too long.”

The primary will be on Tuesday, June 25.

The winner will face Republican Miriam Flisser, who filed her petition with the state Board of Elections in early April, in the general election on Nov. 5.



We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.