Congressman Eliot Engel with Malachy McAllister.
By Ray O’Hanlon
Congressman Eliot Engel, a fixture in New York’s political firmament for over three decades, has conceded defeat in his bid to win a district primary, this even as some absentee ballots are still being counted.
Democrat Engel, current chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been a stalwart supporter of issues of concern to Irish Americans during his years in Congress.
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His congressional district, New York’s 16th, covers part of the Bronx and Westchester County. Newcomer Jamaal Bowman, a former middle school teacher, will represent the Democratic Party in the November general election.
In a statement issued Friday Engel said: “The numbers are clear, and I will not be the Democratic nominee for the 16th Congressional District seat in the fall election.
“Serving the people of the Bronx and Westchester in Congress has been the greatest privilege of my life, and what a remarkable 32 years it has been. We have made so much progress together, and faced so many challenges. Throughout those years, I have always worked as hard as humanly possible to represent my constituents as a progressive Democrat in Washington and as an involved, informed and present public servant in New York. I take particular pride in always showing up, always being present, always listening, and always caring deeply about those whom it’s been an honor to serve as their Congressman.
“I wish Mr. Bowman well as he begins this new chapter in his life. Here in New York’s 16th District, where I have lived since I was a young boy in Eastchester Gardens, we desperately need Washington’s resources at this critical time, and we must continue to fight for them.
“I want to thank, first and foremost, my wife, Pat, and my three children, Julia, Jonathan, and Philip, whose love and support carried me every single day I’ve been in Congress. I want to thank my incredible campaign staff for all of their hard work this past year, and all of the amazing volunteers and supporters who stuck with us during the campaign.
“For these three plus decades, I have had the very best government staff working for me in my three district offices in New York, my Washington office, and on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Their work – from crafting legislation to helping people with problems big and small – has been exemplary from the very beginning. They made me look good, and I want to personally thank them from the bottom of my heart for all of their hard work and support.
“I honestly cannot tell you how touched I have been by all the kind words and love we received from every corner of the district. I want to thank my colleagues in government for their steadfast friendship and partnership over the years. We are so blessed here to have elected officials at every level of government who care deeply about helping the community and are always willing to work together to improve conditions for our shared constituencies. I have no doubt they will continue that outstanding work and make NY16 even better!
“Finally, I want to thank the voters in New York’s 16th District, who 16 times decided to renew my two-year contract and send me back to Washington – what an honor to be the longest-serving Congressman in the history of the Bronx. I never for a minute thought of this as my seat. It’s the people’s seat, and it is a true honor that you put your trust in me to represent you in the greatest legislative body in the world.”