'If I didn't have a primary, I wouldn't care.' - Rep. Engel responds to comment caught on News 12 mic
Rep. Eliot Engel was caught by a News 12 microphone during press event saying something that could be damaging to his re-election hopes.
In just three weeks – Rep. Engel faces several challengers looking to unseat him in Congress, representing New York's 16th District in the Bronx and Westchester.
This afternoon, the congressman asked Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. if he could speak at a press conference after a night of looting and racial unrest in the Bronx. The exchange was caught by News 12 microphones:
Diaz Jr. - "Please bear with me, I'll announce everybody, I appreciate you coming but then I got to go down the list and it's just too many people," said Diaz Jr.
Rep. Engel - "If I didn't have a primary I wouldn't care," said Rep. Engel.
Diaz Jr. - "Say that again?"
Rep. Engel - "If I didn't have a primary, I wouldn't care."
Diaz Jr. – “Don't do that to me. We're not going to do this. We're not politicizing. Everybody's got a primary, you know? I'm sorry."
The video immediately made its way to social media and garnered responses from many officials, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and primary rival Jamaal Bowman.
Rep. Engel responded to his comments in a statement:
“In the context of running for re-election, I thought it was important for people to know where I stand, that's why I asked to speak. Of course, I care deeply about what's happening in this country, that's what I wanted to convey. I love the Bronx, grew up in the Bronx and lived here all my life. I would not have tried to impose on the borough president if I didn't think it was important.”
“We had many elected officials who attended the press conference, coming out in solidarity of our message of racial justice and our calls for police reform, so the speaking program was purposely kept extremely limited to a couple of speakers. I will continue to support and endorse Congressman Engel as I have consistently done throughout my tenure as borough president. Congressman Engel is a distinguished and effective partner in government, he is dedicated, and always fights for the people of his district bringing results to The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. in a statement.