Veteran New York Rep. Eliot Engel could be setting himself up to be the next Joe Crowley — who was toppled from out of nowhere by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2018 — by social distancing from his own coronavirus-stricken district. Despite facing his fiercest primary challenge in some time and his Bronx-Westchester district being home to New York’s first coronavirus outbreak in New Rochelle, Engel hasn’t set foot in the Empire State since at least March 27, a report said Thursday.
Engel’s disappearing act left experts scratching their heads — and his challenger, former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman, smelling blood in the water. “I would not want to be Mr. Engel’s operative in trying to explain why at the very moment his constituents arguably have needed him more than they ever have he’s been safely ensconced,” veteran political strategist Neal Kwatra told The Post. Kwatra said that Engel’s straying from home left him vulnerable to a potential primary upset not unlike the stunner Ocasio-Cortez pulled off in 2018 over longtime incumbent Crowley — in the Bronx-Queens district that borders on Engel’s. “She did a lot of things well and built a playbook for a lot of upstart progressive challengers,” said Kwatra of AOC. “This tactic of identifying your local longtime representative as being out of touch is Campaigning 101.”
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