2 businessmen look to upset Engel in Tuesday primary

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THE BRONX -

Two Westchester businessmen are vying to take over Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel’s coveted seat on Capitol Hill in Tuesday's winner-take-all Democratic primary.

Engel has represented the 16th Congressional District of southern Westchester and the Bronx for 30 years.

MORE: Coverage of Primary Races

Scarsdale entrepreneur Jonathan Lewis says Engel takes too much special interest money from the food and drug industries to objectively help constituents.

“I believe that set of conflicts—and there's many more of them throughout Congress and Congressman Engel's own career—it's at the heart of why our democracy is in trouble,” says Lewis.

Derickson Lawrence, of Mount Vernon, is also challenging Engel. The longtime businessman argues he's affected more change outside of politics with a local gun buyback initiative and other programs than Engel has in office.

“It's about improving lives,” says Lawrence. “And if you're able to do that with transferring experience from a business background, which is what I have, that qualifies you.”

Engel, endorsed Friday by several law enforcement agencies, says his challengers lack both political experience and power.

“I don't think the voters won't to throw out a member of the district who has worked hard, who's been effective, who has the seniority to bring home the bacon for the district and exchange him for people who are novices and would have to stay there 20 to 30 years to have the clout to do things I can do now,” says Engel.

A fourth Democrat from the Bronx, Joyce Briscoe, is also running in the Democratic primary. Whoever wins the race Tuesday will most likely get the congressional seat come November, as no Republicans entered the race.

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