New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman is accusing his challenger of putting a purposely “darkened” photo of him on a campaign mailer in a racist effort to scare off potential voters for the incumbent in this month’s Democratic Primary.
Bowman alleges that his skin tone was intentionally made darker in flyers mailed out for Vedat Gashi, a challenger in the primary for New York’s 16th Congressional District, which includes the north Bronx and part of Westchester County.
Bowman, a progressive in the mold of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a member of the far-left congressional “Squad,” lashed out at moderate Democrat Gashi over two separate mailers that included pictures of the freshman House member.
“To be black in America is to deal with multiple forms of racism on a consistent basis. This is one of them,” Bowman said in a statement provided to The Post. “There is an ugly history behind facial distortion to spread hate and disdain for political purposes.
“This is why voters were angered. This is also why we introduced the African American History Act and the resolution to fight hate and antisemitism,” Bowman went on. “The isms and phobias in America are killing us, and stopping us from reaching our potential as a country. We need to be better educated to stop the hate that’s eating our country and democracy alive.”
The congressman claimed Republicans “do this all the time” before pivoting to say it was unfortunate Democrats were beginning to use the “same tactics.”
A spokesperson for Gashi denied any wrongdoing.
“Of course, we did not alter the photo,” Gashi’s campaign manager, Daniel Johnson, said in a statement. “This is just another example of how the incumbent refuses to be held accountable for his failed record. Our campaign is focused on protecting our democratic values and helping families in the Bronx and Westchester thrive.”
The first mailer showed a seemingly darkened image of Bowman, bashing him for looking to “defund the police” and working “against President Biden and the Democratic agenda. The other side of the mailer, picturing Gashi and his family, was brightly lit and sharper, critics contended.
A second mailer showed the candidates side-by-side in an agenda scorecard, with the same image of Bowman alongside a well-lit picture of Gashi. That mailer hammered Bowman for being critical of Israel and voting against Biden’s infrastructure bill.
“Rather than playing petty and performative politics, Vedat is focused on doing everything he can to help the families of the Bronx and Westchester.”
New York’s 16th CD is now whiter and less black after its lines were redrawn, according to City & State, which first reported on the mailers.
Bowman took office in the overwhelmingly Democratic district after a primary upset win over 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel in 2020. But he has faced some pushback. particularly in the suburban part of his district.
He’s facing challenges in the Aug. 23 primary from Gashi and Catherine Parker, both members of the Westchester County legislature who are running to his right.