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  • Writer's pictureMichael McAuliff

Pelosi Hails Eliot Engel for Unique Powerful Position

A day after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backed Rep. Eliot Engel's primary challenger, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lauded the embattled veteran New York Congressman as a blessing for New York who has a uniquely powerful post in Congress.

Rep. Eliot Engel

The speaker's praise came after the progressive hero freshman endorsed Jamaal Bowman in a rare intra-party knifing, declaring, "This moment requires renewed and revitalized leadership across the country AND at the ballot box."

Pelosi was careful to also back Ocasio-Cortez in a more typical display of party operating procedure, but made clear she wanted Engel back.

And she suggested New Yorkers should think twice about the experience and Washington clout they'd lose if they lose Engel.

"I think the people in New York are very blessed to have them both in the Congress," Pelosi said, before making the power case for the 73-year-old chairman who got his start in Congress three decades ago.

"Chairman Engel is the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee," Pelosi said, adding that he is also a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

"That wouldn't happen again. That's a lot of power, but he is in that position," Pelosi said. "So he does a great job for New York, and I wish him well in his election, as I wish her well in her election."

Ocasio-Cortez, however, won against another powerful entrenched pol in 2017, when she ousted Rep. Joe Crowley in a stunning primary upset. Crowley was the chairman of the House Democratic caucus.

Although Engel's district is not a diverse as Crowley's, it still has many poor voters and voters of color, who, along with progressives are clamoring for change in Washington. He seemed to be aware of the threat when he tried to speak at an event earlier in the week where Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. refused to give him the mic.

Engel implored him, saying, "If I didn't have a primary, I wouldn't care." It was caught on camera.


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