In Bowman-Latimer Race, Voters Say Negative Ads Were Turnoff


Democratic voters turned out across the 16th Congressional district in New York on Tuesday to cast their ballots in the contentious primary between Representative Jamaal Bowman and his opponent, George Latimer, the Westchester County executive, a race with far-reaching political implications.

In Yonkers and the Bronx, areas where Mr. Bowman was expected to do well, voters were supportive — if sometimes skeptical.

Just after 7 a.m. in Yonkers, Jennifer Chalmers, 70, arrived to vote for the congressman somewhat grudgingly. After Mr. Bowman was charged with a misdemeanor for pulling a fire alarm in a House office building in October, Ms. Chalmers began to question his composure, she said.

The alarm created chaos while Democrats attempted to stall a vote on a Republican-written stopgap spending bill intended to avert a government shutdown; Mr. Bowman was accused of pulling the alarm in an effort to delay the vote.

“I thought: ‘What a little boy that is,’” Ms. Chalmers said, before adding: “He’s doing something good — or close to good.”

Others were more enthusiastic toward Mr. Bowman, expressing support for his stances on gun violence and the Israel-Hamas war. Vaughn Holloway, a voter in the Bronx, said he believed in Mr. Bowman and his message, referring to him as a “hometown guy.” He said had followed Mr. Bowman since the congressman was the principal at the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, the school that he founded. Mr. Holloway added that Mr. Bowman had visited his mosque several times.

“He came out, and that meant something to me,” Mr. Holloway said.

Further north, in Scarsdale, the fire alarm debacle continued to haunt Mr. Bowman in territory that was already more friendly toward Mr. Latimer. Sandra Altman, 63, said the incident made her dislike her representative. She planned to vote for Mr. Latimer, she said.

“He’s making the party look really bad,” she said of Mr. Bowman. “He’s on the fringe doing all kinds of stuff.”

At the Scarsdale Public Library, Christa Mruz, 53, said she did not vote for Mr. Bowman in 2020, and that he had not managed to change her mind while in office. She decided to vote for Mr. Latimer because of his record serving the county.

“He’s done great for Westchester and he’ll continue to do so on a higher level,” she said. “We need more people who will work together instead of being separate for their own agendas.”

Several voters expressed weariness with the deluge of campaign advertising, much of it negative, that has characterized the race. Justin Avila, 18, a first-time voter in Yonkers who supported Mr. Latimer, called both candidates’ ads “childish.”

Polls are open until 9 p.m.

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