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Jamaal Bowman
Jamaal Bowman 117th U.S Congress.jpg
Official portrait, 2021
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 16th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2021
Preceded byEliot Engel
Personal details
Born (1976-04-01) April 1, 1976 (age 46)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Other political
Democratic Socialists of America[a]
SpouseMelissa Oppenheimer
Residence(s)Yonkers, New York, U.S.
EducationUniversity of New Haven (BA)
Mercy College (MA)
Manhattanville College (EdD)

Jamaal Anthony Bowman (born April 1, 1976)[2][3] is an American politician and educator serving as the U.S. representative for New York's 16th congressional district since 2021. The district covers much of the north Bronx, as well as the southern half of Westchester County, including Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Bowman's hometown of Yonkers.

Bowman is the founder and former principal of the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a public middle school in Eastchester, Bronx. He is a member of the Lower Hudson Valley chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. He defeated 16-term incumbent Eliot Engel in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Early life and education

Bowman was born in Manhattan, a borough of New York City. He lived with his grandmother in the East River Houses in East Harlem during the week and with his mother and sisters in Yorkville on weekends. His grandmother died when he was eight years old.[4][5] At age 16, he moved with his family to Sayreville, New Jersey.[5] He attended Sayreville War Memorial High School, where he played on the football team.[6]

Bowman briefly attended Potomac State Junior College before earning a Bachelor of Arts in sports management from the University of New Haven in 1999.[7] He played college football for the New Haven Chargers.[8] Bowman later earned a Master of Arts in counseling from Mercy College and a Doctor of Education in educational leadership from Manhattanville College.[9]

Teaching career

After earning his undergraduate degree, Bowman decided not to pursue a career in sports management. Upon the suggestion of a family friend who worked for the New York City Department of Education, Bowman began working as an educator. His first job was as a crisis management teacher in a South Bronx elementary school.[5] In 2009, he founded Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a public middle school in the Bronx.[4][5]

Bowman became a leading advocate against standardized testing.[10][11] His blog on the role of standardized testing has received national attention.[10] He has written about high-stakes testing's role in perpetuating inequalities,[12] including the turnover, tumult, and vicious cycle it creates in students' and educators' lives, as assessment performance damages a school's ability to teach and, subsequently, the quality of the education upon which the student is assessed. By the mid-2010s, a quarter of Bowman's students had opted out of standardized testing. He also advocated for children to receive arts, history, and science education in addition to the basics of literacy and numeracy.[10] Bowman's school policy used a restorative justice model to address the school-to-prison pipeline.[13] After ten years as principal, he left the job to focus on his congressional campaign.[14]

U.S. House of Representatives



The Justice Democrats recruited Bowman to run for the United States House of Representatives in New York's 16th congressional district, represented by 16-term incumbent Eliot Engel.[15] Engel had served as a member of the House since 1989 and as chair of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs since the first session of the 116th United States Congress. Bowman was inspired to run by the insurgent 2018 campaign of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and described his platform as "anti-poverty and anti-racist", with support for housing, criminal justice reform, education, Medicare for All, and a Green New Deal.[16] No Republican even filed, meaning that whoever won the Democratic primary would be essentially assured of victory in November. Registered Democrats in the district outnumber registered Republicans by more than four to one, meaning that any hypothetical Republican challenger would have faced nearly impossible odds in any case.[17] With a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+24, it is the ninth-most Democratic district covering a significant portion of New York City.

Bowman's campaign criticized Engel's record on foreign policy and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bowman's endorsements from the Sunrise Movement and the New York Working Families Party assisted with fundraising despite being well behind Engel.[18] He was also endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and the editorial board of The New York Times.[15][19]

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a large portion of ballots were cast absentee, but because of Bowman's 26-point lead on election night, news outlets soon started referring to him as the presumptive Democratic nominee.[20] On July 17, 2020, based on their analysis of the absentee ballot count, the Associated Press called the primary race for Bowman.[17]

Bowman's primary victory all but guaranteed he would win the general election due to the 16th's heavily Democratic nature and the lack of Republican opposition.[17] He won in a landslide, defeating Conservative nominee Patrick McManus with 84% of the vote.[21]


Bowman with Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary Xavier Becerra
Bowman with Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary Xavier Becerra

Upon his swearing-in, Bowman joined The Squad, a group of progressive Democratic lawmakers. He was photographed alongside the four original Squad members and another new member, Cori Bush of Missouri's 1st congressional district.[22] He is the Squad's first male member.

In January 2021, following the storming of the United States Capitol, Bowman introduced the Congressional Oversight of Unjust Policing Act (COUP Act) to establish a commission to investigate how United States Capitol Police handled the storming of the Capitol and to look at potential ties of some of its members to white nationalism.[23] Bowman said that introducing the bill is "critical when you look at the disparity in terms of how the Capitol Police responded to the insurrection on Wednesday, versus how they responded to—not just [Black Lives Matter] protestors this summer, but other people of color, and people who are disabled, historically”.[24] Such legislation came after both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer called for the resignation of the Capitol Police chief.[25]

On November 5, 2021, Bowman was one of six House Democrats to break with their party and vote against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act because it did not include the Build Back Better Act.[26][27]

Foreign and defense policy

Bowman was one of 15 representatives to vote against H.R. 567: Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act of 2021, which would establish an interagency program to assist countries in North and West Africa to improve immediate and long-term capabilities to counter terrorist threats, and for other purposes.[28]

In September 2021, Bowman was among 38 House Democrats to vote against the National Defense Authorization Act of 2022.[29][30]

Also in September 2021, Bowman voted in favor of providing Israel with an additional $1 billion in aid to fund its Iron Dome missile defense system.[31] His vote was controversial among members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and sparked debate within the DSA about whether it should ensure its members support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel.[32]

Bowman was among 51 House Democrats to vote against the final passage of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. Explaining his vote, he said, "it is astounding how quickly Congress moves weapons but we can't ensure housing, care, and justice for our veterans, nor invest in robust jobs programs for districts like mine."[33][34]

In November, Bowman was one of 29 House Democrats to vote against the RENACER Act, which extended U.S. sanctions against Nicaragua and granted the president several ways to address acts of corruption and human rights violations by the Daniel Ortega administration, including the power to exclude Nicaragua from the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) and to obstruct multilateral loans to the country.[35][36]

In July 2022, Bowman was one of 77 House Democrats to vote for an amendment that would have cut the proposed defense budget by $100 billion.[37] On the same day, he was one of 137 House Democrats to vote for a separate amendment that would have removed a proposed $37 billion spending increase in the defense budget.[38]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Electoral history


2020 Democratic primary[42]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jamaal Bowman 49,367 55.4
Democratic Eliot Engel (incumbent) 36,149 40.6
Democratic Chris Fink 1,625 1.8
Democratic Sammy Ravelo 1,139 1.3
Democratic Andom Ghebreghiorgis (withdrawn) 761 0.9
Total votes 89,041 100.0
New York's 16th congressional district, 2020[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jamaal Bowman 218,471 84.2
Conservative Patrick McManus 41,085 15.8
Total votes 259,556 100.0
Democratic hold


2022 Democratic primary[44]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jamaal Bowman (incumbent) 17,023 57.1
Democratic Vedat Gashi 6,892 23.1
Democratic Catherine Parker 5,349 18.0
Democratic Mark Jaffee 527 1.8
Total votes 36,777 100.0
New York's 16th congressional district, 2022
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jamaal Bowman 124,763 57.2
Working Families Jamaal Bowman 6,422 2.9
Total Jamaal Bowman (incumbent) 131,185 60.1
Republican Miriam Flisser 73,238 33.5
Total votes 218,026 100.0
Democratic hold
Bowman at Messiah Baptist Church in New York
Bowman at Messiah Baptist Church in New York

Personal life

Bowman lives with his wife, Melissa Oppenheimer, and their three children in Yonkers, New York.[4][45] His wife was upset about his decision to run for office for "the first eleven months", Bowman revealed on an episode of The Carlos Watson Show.[46]

Bowman is a fan of New York hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. He described hip-hop as a "culture that is created by teenagers who were forgotten about, and because they were forgotten about, they were forced to come together and create something beautiful".[47] Bowman drew inspiration from the Wu-Tang Clan during his underdog campaign,[48] and has frequently been seen in a Wu-Tang Clan emblazoned face covering during the COVID-19 pandemic,[48][49][50] which GQ noted allowed Bowman to send voters a message.[51] In February 2021, Bowman's mother died of complications related to COVID-19.[52]

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ Democratic Socialists of America is not a registered political party, instead, it is a political organization for those with democratic socialist ideologies.[1]


  1. ^ Stein, Jeff (August 5, 2017). "9 questions about the Democratic Socialists of America you were too embarrassed to ask". Vox. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  2. ^ Clark, Dartunorro (June 14, 2020). "'Unapologetic': This progressive NYC principal is fighting to unseat a 16-term Democrat". NBC News. Archived from the original on June 14, 2020. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  3. ^ "Jamaal Anthony Bowman". Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Carp, Alex (June 17, 2020). "Jamaal Bowman Takes the Lead". New York. Archived from the original on June 17, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d Johnson, Stephon (December 8, 2016). "Jamaal Bowman stumbled into education and doesn't regret it". New York Amsterdam News. Archived from the original on June 15, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  6. ^ Tufaro, Greg (October 27, 1993). "Bowman practices what he preaches: Sayreville senior stars on defense". The Central New Jersey Home News. p. C2. Archived from the original on June 21, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020 – via
  7. ^ "LCV Action Fund and New York LCV Endorse Jamaal Bowman for Congress". League of Conservation Voters. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  8. ^ Konick Jr., Emery (July 22, 1998). "Clark anxious for gridiron return: Part of talented cast at U. of New Haven". The Central New Jersey Home News. p. B5. Archived from the original on June 20, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020 – via
  9. ^ Woyton, Michael (June 18, 2020). "Jamaal Bowman: Candidate For NY Congressional District 16". Bronxville-Eastchester, NY Patch. Archived from the original on June 19, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Tampio, Nicholas (2018). Common Core: National Education Standards and the Threat to Democracy. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 157–159. ISBN 978-1-4214-2464-4. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  11. ^ deMause, Neil (March 28, 2016). "Low-Income Parents Are Caught Between the Growing Opt-Out Movement and the City's Attempts to Clamp Down on Dissent". Village Voice. Archived from the original on June 15, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  12. ^ Sahlberg, Pasi; Doyle, William (2019). Let the Children Play: How More Play Will Save Our Schools and Help Children Thrive. Oxford University Press. pp. 169–170. ISBN 978-0-19-093216-9. Archived from the original on August 12, 2020. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  13. ^ Chávez, Aída; Lacy, Akela (June 18, 2019). "Hawkish Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel Is Facing Two Primary Challengers". The Intercept. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  14. ^ Lacy, Akela (May 26, 2020). "At Debate, Progressive Jamaal Bowman Hits Israel Hawk Eliot Engel's Defense Industry Backing". The Intercept. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  15. ^ a b McKinley, Jesse (June 17, 2020). "Top Democrats Are Trying to Stop This Man From Becoming the Next A.O.C." The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 17, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  16. ^ Cochrane, Emily (June 18, 2019). "Bronx Principal to Challenge Eliot Engel, Powerful House Democrat, From the Left". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 17, 2020. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  17. ^ a b c McKinley, Jesse (July 17, 2020). "Jamaal Bowman, Progressive Insurgent, Defeats Eliot Engel in House Primary". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 17, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  18. ^ Lacy, Akela (June 1, 2020). "In Final Stretch, Progressives Coalesce Around a Single Challenger to Rep. Eliot Engel". The Intercept. Archived from the original on June 13, 2020. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  19. ^ New York Times Editorial Board (June 12, 2020). "New York Voters Can Send Some Promising New Faces to Congress". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 19, 2020. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  20. ^ "Jamaal Bowman: Political newcomer shakes up NY 'status quo'". BBC. June 25, 2020. Archived from the original on July 14, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  21. ^ "New York Election results". CNN. November 2020.
  22. ^ @CoriBush (January 3, 2021). "Squad up" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  23. ^ Hinman, Michael (January 8, 2021). "Bowman's first bill in Congress? The COUP Act". The Riverdale Press. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  24. ^ Voght, Kara (January 8, 2021). "Democrat Introduces Bill to Investigate If Capitol Police Have Ties to White Supremacist Groups". Mother Jones. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  25. ^ Vallejo, Justin (January 8, 2021). "'Failure of leadership': Pelosi demands Capitol Hill police chief resign as House Sergeant at Arms steps down". The Independent. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  26. ^ Annie Grayer. "These 6 House Democrats voted against the infrastructure bill. These 13 Republicans voted for it". CNN. Retrieved November 6, 2021.
  27. ^ "New York to Reap Billions of Dollars for Mass Transit in "Monumental" Infrastructure Bill". November 6, 2021.
  28. ^ "H.R. 567: Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act of 2021". GovTrack. June 29, 2021. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  29. ^ Kheel, Rebecca (September 23, 2021). "House passes sweeping defense policy bill". The Hill. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  30. ^ "H.R. 4350: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 -- House Vote #293 -- Sep 23, 2021".
  31. ^ "Roll Call 275 - Bill Number: H. R. 5323". The Clerk of the House. September 23, 2021.
  32. ^ Kane, Alex (December 15, 2022). "Palestine Is a Proxy Fight in a Fractious DSA". Jewish Currents. Archived from the original on January 18, 2023.
  33. ^ "S. 1605: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 -- House Vote #405 -- Dec 7, 2021".
  34. ^ Johnson, Jake (December 15, 2021). ""Reckless misuse of resources": Congress passes $778 billion military budget". Salon. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  35. ^ "RENACER Act -- Nov 3, 2021".
  36. ^ Ardila, Erika (November 10, 2021). "Biden enacts the RENACER Act". AL DÍA News. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  37. ^ "House Resolution 7900 Lee of California Part A Amendment No. 13 -- Jul 13, 2022".
  38. ^ "House Resolution 7900 Lee of California Part A Amendment No. 14 -- Jul 13, 2022".
  39. ^ "Jamaal Bowman Member Profile". Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  40. ^ "Congressional Black Caucus". Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  41. ^ "Caucus Members". US House of Representatives. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  42. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah; et al. (June 23, 2020). "Results: New York House District 16 primary election". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 4, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  43. ^ "2020 Election Results". New York State Board of Elections. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  44. ^ "House Election Results 2022 | Live Primary Updates | Voting by District". Politico.
  45. ^ "Maya's Marvelous Walk in the Woods". ECE PolicyWorks. September 4, 2017. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  46. ^ The Carlos Watson Show (August 24, 2020). "Jamaal Bowman: Is He the Next AOC?". YouTube. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  47. ^ Jada, Yuan (July 16, 2020). "How a middle school principal used the Ocasio-Cortez playbook against a 16-term incumbent". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 20, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  48. ^ a b McGrady, Clyde (July 23, 2020). "Jamaal Bowman: 'The police literally beat the crap out of me'". Roll Call. Archived from the original on July 23, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  49. ^ Dunlea, Reed (July 2, 2020). "'The First Time' With Politician Jamaal Bowman". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 25, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  50. ^ Bort, Ryan (June 24, 2020). "Jamaal Bowman Is Just the Politician This Moment Needs". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 23, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  51. ^ Wolf, Cam (June 24, 2020). "Wu-Tang Clan, Washington Nationals, and Apple Emojis: Politicians Are Flexing the Mask's Power". GQ. Archived from the original on July 23, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  52. ^ Pitofsky, Marina (February 16, 2021). "Jamaal Bowman's mother dies of COVID-19: 'I share her legacy with all of you'". TheHill. Retrieved August 11, 2021.

Further reading

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 16th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 24 January 2023, at 09:14
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