Originally published June 10, 2020
In August 2019, the Queens District Attorney race was narrowly won by Melinda Katz, a center-left Democrat who was the Borough President at the time. Her victory in the Democratic Primary came after a recount, as Tiffany Cabán, the public defender with only a few years of experience, almost pulled off as shocking a victory as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez achieved the year before. That election became the push the Queens Jewish community needed to begin a registration drive.
AOC’s challenger is Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a far more moderate Democrat
Shortly after the election, a video featuring some of the most prominent rabbinical leaders in Queens began circulating, urging Jewish voters to register as Democrats so the Jewish community’s voice would be heard. The thinking was that whichever Democrat wins the primary will win the general election, so to really affect the outcome, the turnout must be high during the primary.
The next primary election is Tuesday, June 23; and as in 2018, there are multiple Democratic incumbents who are being challenged by a further left candidate. These candidates will be of a similar ilk to the aforementioned AOC and her infamous Squad, who have used their time in Congress to propose or vote for some of the most blatantly anti-Israel resolutions in recent memory. Two of those members, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, are so anti-Israel that the Israeli government would not allow them into the country.
Representative Grace Meng, of the NY-6 Congressional District, which covers much of the borough of Queens, faces such a challenger. Melquiades (Mel) Gagarin is cut from the same cloth regarding Israel issues. From his campaign website, “Mel believes that the Iraq invasion, our quagmire in Afghanistan, US support for right-wing regime change in Latin America, escalation with Iran, and our lockstep support for Israeli occupation have made us less safe and have caused undue harm around the world.” The foreign policy page continues by saying that “The US must stand for justice everywhere,” and the list includes “Palestinians living under Israeli apartheid.” The list also includes Iranians and Venezuelans, but clarifies that their “lives are choked by punitive US sanctions.” Apparently, Gagarin believes that if it were not for the US sanctions, Iran and Venezuela would be havens of freedom and Democracy, and the Palestinians’ only problems are the Israeli government. It doesn’t end there. Gagarin specifically lambasts US foreign policy regarding Israel. “In Palestine and Israel, we must take special responsibility for the harms caused by decades of one-sided US support for Israel. We must stop fueling the conflict and end all military aid to Israel, and instead work for solutions that guarantee security, justice, and full equality to Israelis and Palestinians, so that Israeli and Palestinian children alike can live in peace and have the chance to grow and prosper.”
Eliot Engel is facing far-left challenger Jamaal Bowman
The 16th District, represented by Eliot Engel, faces a far-left challenger, as well. Jamaal Bowman was handpicked by the Justice Democrats to primary Engel. The Justice Democrats, for those who don’t know, was founded in 2017 by former Bernie Sanders campaign staffers for the sole purpose of finding socialist candidates to primary mainstream Democrats in deep blue districts. Their first major victory was, of course, AOC’s defeat of Joe Crowley. However, their other victories in 2018 included Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley, the other Squad members. Bowman’s Issues Page on his website is littered with the same socialist policies pushed by other Justice Democrats candidates, from the Green New Deal to Medicare for All. His Foreign Policy section says that we must have “honest conversations about our government’s role in enabling the continued occupation of the Palestinian people” and refers to the Israeli government as a “far-right authoritarian” government on par with Saudi Arabia.
Then there’s AOC herself, facing numerous challengers in the primary race for the 14th District. Unlike Meng and Engel, AOC is trying to maintain the seat for the socialist left, not wrestle it from the center-left. However, any challenger to AOC will have a rough time, as she has outraised every other Democrat running for the House except for Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff. AOC raised over $7 million for her re-election, and most of it is unspent. Her main challenger, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, has raised over a million, an impressive accomplishment for a challenger. Caruso-Cabrera is a far more moderate Democrat, something that the Democrats desperately need after being dragged to the left these last few years.
It’s desperately important to vote on June 23 [or earlier by absentee ballot]. Given trends for the past few decades, the vote in June is far more important than the one in November. All constituents should be aware of who could be representing them if they choose to stay home.
Moshe Hill is a political analyst who has written for The Daily Wire, the Queens Jewish Link, The Jewish Link of New Jersey and JNS.org. He is regularly featured on ‘The Josh M Show’ podcast. Subscribe to www.aHillwithaview.com for more content from Moshe Hill. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/ahillwithaview and follow him on Twitter @TheMoHill.