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“Congress Is Not for Sale”: Rep. Ramirez Slams AIPAC-Led Campaign Against Jamaal Bowman in NY Primary

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Image Credit: X / @JamaalBowmanNY (R)

Democratic Congressmember Delia Ramirez of Illinois says “big money in politics” is a threat to U.S. democracy, pointing to Jamaal Bowman’s primary race as an example of how deep-pocketed interest groups can impact election contests. Bowman is a progressive “Squad” member facing a tight nomination race in New York’s 16th Congressional District against his Democratic challenger George Latimer, who has the backing of groups affiliated with the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, which have pumped millions of dollars into the primary. Bowman was one of the first lawmakers to call for a Gaza ceasefire after October 7. “They are literally trying to purchase that election because he dared to stand for peace and justice,” says Ramirez.

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StoryJun 06, 2024“Propaganda Machine”: NY Congressmember Jamaal Bowman on AIPAC’s $25 Million Campaign to Unseat Him
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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I am also interested in races around the country right now as we cover the election. You tweeted with others, like Texas Congressmember Greg Casar, to encourage other members of the House Democratic Caucus to support Jamaal Bowman here in New York, a massive, multimedia — multimillion-dollar ad campaign has been launched against him, who is a two-term congressmember. Can you talk about your support for your colleague?

REP. DELIA RAMIREZ: Yeah, absolutely. And let me start saying, I had a meeting with seniors, about 75 seniors, earlier this week, and they were asking me how to protect Social Security. They were asking me why are we not doing more about affordable housing, why is healthcare so darn expensive. And my response was “because of the big money in politics.”

You have really good candidates and incumbents, like Jamaal Bowman, who have been doing the work around the clock, who fight like hell for his district and all people in this country, to ensure that they have adequate, good-quality education, housing, healthcare, who stand on the side of justice and want to see peace in Gaza and peace in New York, who — AIPACs of the world will come in, raise a crap ton of money, mostly from Republicans, and throw it in there as a game to try to unelect one of the most effective, most caring, most passionate members of Congress.

And I’ll tell you, to me, that is despicable, that they could use that much money and that we, as Congress and our Supreme Court, would allow that. They are literally trying to purchase that election because he dared to stand for peace and justice, because he chose to say, “I want food, I want peace, and not bombs,” and because he is a man who always has stood on the side of the people, of the working-class people. You have this man running against him, laughing when he is asked about how he’s taking money from places like AIPAC. You have crypto getting involved.

And so, I really hope that New York voters are watching closely that they’re trying to buy this election, and then they’re preparing themselves to try to buy more elections across the country. And certainly, we know that they’re trying to come also after Congresswoman Cori Bush. And we have to say, “Absolutely not. This seat is not for sale. Congress is not for sale. And enough of this trying to buy these elections.”

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, Jamaal Bowman is facing the most expensive primary race in U.S. history. The —

REP. DELIA RAMIREZ: Amy, imagine if that money went to housing and healthcare and education in that district, instead of campaigns to smear him. Imagine if we used that money for helping working-class people.

AMY GOODMAN: The primary here in New York is next Tuesday. That’s June 25th. But early voting has already begun. Finally, Delia Ramirez, how open is the Biden administration to hearing your immigration advocacy? You also brought to SOTU, to the State of the Union address, Elvira Arellano, who was an immigrant who we interviewed when she was in sanctuary in a Chicago church to prevent her from being deported.

REP. DELIA RAMIREZ: Yeah. I mean, look, I talked to the president directly a couple weeks ago, and I said to him, “You get to choose what kind of president you want to be: the president that keeps families together, the president that separates them. You get to decide what kind of president you are. Are you the president that welcomes people seeking asylum, because you understand your own immigrant experience of maybe a hundred years ago, or are you going to be the one that restricts it?” I’m going to tell you, in this place, it’s all about seniority. But I’m not going to wait until I’m here three terms to fight like hell for communities that I care deeply about. I know that he heard me particularly, not on the asylum, but certainly on keeping families together, because I made it really personal.

AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.

REP. DELIA RAMIREZ: This is about Boris Hernández. This is about Boris Hernández. And he gets to choose what kind of president he wants to be, if he wants to earn their vote in November.

AMY GOODMAN: Delia Ramirez, we thank you so much for being with us, first Latina congressmember to represent Illinois. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

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“Propaganda Machine”: NY Congressmember Jamaal Bowman on AIPAC’s $25 Million Campaign to Unseat Him

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