Editorial | New Yorkers rejected extremism at the polls. Now so must America.

Congress Member Jamaal Bowman addresses victory party crowd
Congress Member Jamaal Bowman addresses supporters at his primary night party on June 25, 2024.
Photo by Camille Botello

In their primary votes on Tuesday, Bronx and Westchester residents sent a message to America: We don’t want extremism.

Almost all of the local Democratic incumbents on the primary ballot, regardless of whether they were progressive or moderate, prevailed in the June 25 campaign. Just two failed: Congress Member Jamaal Bowman of Bronx/Westchester, and Assembly Member Juan Ardila of Queens.

Ardila went down because of a sexual harassment scandal for which he is yet to full hold himself accountable. But Bowman was defeated because he put extreme ideology ahead of his constituents, who instead embraced the widely-popular, moderate, get-things-done style of Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

Bowman and his camp continue to spin their loss as a triumph of wealthy donors over progressivism. It’s utter nonsense.

Other progressive incumbents in New York won in spite of stiff challenges from often deep-pocketed opponents — none more so than Bowman’s Congressional neighbor in the Bronx, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won more than 80% of the vote and easily repelled a challenge from businessman Martin Dolan.

Where did Bowman go wrong? He went too hard on his ideology, and the voters said no. 

From playing both sides in the Israel-Hamas war and diminishing the suffering of Jewish New Yorkers and Israelis, to pulling a fire alarm to interrupt House proceedings, to getting into confrontations with House colleagues, Bowman stuck to his ideology all the way rather than listen to all of his constituents. He treated Latimer like an enemy rather than a rival (there’s a difference between the two), and even in his speech after losing the race, made no overtures to concede and get behind the party’s nominee for November.

All of which proved the primary voters right in their decision.

It’s clear what the voters of the 16th Congressional District want in their elected representative — someone pragmatic who can listen to them and make sure the district gets what it needs without forcing ideology upon everyone else.

By and large, that’s what every New Yorker should want from their representatives on Capitol Hill. That’s what everyone in America should want.

Look at what the MAGA extremists now in charge of the House have done over the past year. While obsessing over Hunter Biden and needless laws to guard against fictional threats, they’ve presided over the most ineffective Congress in the history of this country — incapable of passing any landmark legislation. 

That could be the future of the Democratic Party if it does not balance ideology with practicality, and if it fails to hold extremist ideologues accountable. Fortunately, Democrats in the 16th District made the right call Tuesday and chose to replace its ideologue with someone of ideals. 

Let their decision set an example for all voters in November. Retain those who know how to govern, but replace extremist ideologues who can’t govern their way out of a paper bag.