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These candidates want to unseat 'The Squad'

The group is made up of nine of the most left-leaning members of the House, many of whom have some of the highest name recognition in the nation.
Members of "the squad"
Posted at 6:33 PM, Jun 21, 2024

They won at a time when America was primed for change. They were younger and more diverse.

Now, some on the same side of the aisle say members of “The Squad” have spent their years in Congress raising their profiles and not raising the quality of life in their districts.

“We've got to move away from performance art and move toward performance,” said Westchester County executive George Latimer, who is running to replace Congressman Jamaal Bowman. “They don't spend time on the hard and complicated issues that we have.”

The group is now made up of nine left wing members of the House, many of whom have some of the highest name ID in the nation.

A recent Emerson College poll shows Latimer leading by as much as 17 points. He says Bowman has put the Squad’s goals first.

“The Democratic Party can be progressive and advance positive policies without having to embrace radicalism,” Latimer said. “If the Squad wants to vote no on the infrastructure bill because they have some philosophical point they're trying to make, that no vote hurts the people of this district.”

Bowman joined five other Squad members in voting “no” for that bipartisan bill. Congresswoman Cori Bush was another one of them.

“Some folks are looking to be Twitter or X-famous or viral, but at the end of the day, you got to roll up your sleeves and show up in your respective district,” said St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell.

Bell is challenging Bush and says he’s earned the endorsement of labor unions because of her “no” vote, and from other groups by building local coalitions as a leader over the last decade.

The White House says as of March of this year, Missouri had received $8.5 billion to implement toward infrastructure.

The former Ferguson City councilman is leading Bush in polling conducted earlier this year. There are certainly some policy differences between the two, but Bell made it clear that it's also about approach.

“As a Democrat, we also got to work with our own caucus, and we're not seeing that. And I think that it is not only hurting our party, on the national level, but also locally,” Bell explained.

Bell has pledged to work with his party to pass President Joe Biden’s agenda, something he calls a contrast to his opponent.

Money is pouring into both races, and both men are outraising their opponents. The Bowman-Latimer race has become the most expensive House primary in history.

Others are hoping for an upset. Self-funded businessman Marty Dolan is challenging Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for many of the same reasons.

“If you count up her words, she said a lot more about Gaza and, you know, international issues than she has about, you know, Lafayette Street in the Bronx,” Dolan said.

Dolan says Ocasio-Cortez’s politics only cater to a small portion of the country, and she’s therefore squandering valuable political capital with her seat.

The congresswoman refused to debate Dolan, a tactic used against her by then-Congressman Joe Crowley, whom she defeated in a shocking upset in 2018.

“Telling those people that you're not willing to be part of the political norm speaks for itself,” Dolan said.

All three challengers say their opponents lack a willingness to have meaningful dialogue. Bell says he’s paying attention to the outcome of the New York primaries set for Tuesday. Wins by Latimer or Dolan could signal to other Democrats a shift in voter priorities for this fall.

Israel has been a major driving factor in the Latimer-Bell race. Bowman and Bush are among the members most outspoken regarding the Oct. 7 massacre and subsequent war in Gaza. Both are in districts with large Jewish constituencies.

Congresswoman Summer Lee fended off her primary challenge in April by roughly 20 points.

Scripps News reached out to the Bowman, Bush and Ocasio-Cortez campaigns for an interview. Bowman and Ocasio-Cortez declined, and Bush never responded.

Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign pointed Scripps News to another interview, in which she said Dolan is from outside the district and represents Wall Street, which is why he believes her perspectives are radical.

Dolan says he now has apartments in both Queens and the Bronx.