Eliot Engel has been a member of the United States House of Representatives for decades. He currently represents the 16th District of New York. Which is made up of areas of the Bronx and nearby Westchester County.

Engel has become one of the most influential members of Congress. He chairs one of its most prominent committees. But despite his influence, Engel finds himself in the midst of a highly contentious Democratic primary. And a recent statement he made probably isn't helping his chances.

Didn't realize that he was being recorded

Several demonstrations have taken place after the death of George Floyd.

The tragic event happened in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But demonstrations in response to it have sprung up far and wide in the United States and elsewhere.

For the most part, protests have been peaceful. But there have also been several incidents and violence and destruction of property. This led to a recent news conference in New York City. At which Engel was in attendance, CNN reports.

Engel apparently wanted to make a statement in front of the cameras. He was telling this to Ruben Diaz Jr., the borough president of the Bronx. And he was very blunt in his reasoning. 'If I didn't have a primary, I wouldn't care,' Engel told Diaz. Who was quick to turn him down. 'We're not gonna do this. We're not politicizing.

Everybody's got a primary, you know,' Diaz told him.

Since then, Engel has tried to smooth things over.

In part, he's said that he 'thought it was important for people to know where I stand.' But his words have not settled well with a number of people. As noted on MSN, he was already in trouble in his district. He's been largely absent from it since the outbreak of COVID-19. Which might be understandable on a personal level. But perhaps not very helpful for his constituents.

Public school principal Jamaal Bowman is challenging Engel in the Democratic primary.

Began his electoral career in the 1970s

Engel is a graduate of Lehman College and New York Law School. Before going into politics, he worked with the New York City School District. He was a teacher and a guidance counselor.

Engel was first elected to a political office as a member of the Liberal Party of New York. It was in a special election for a seat in the New York State Assembly. The previous holder, Democrat Alan Hochberg, had been caught election tampering. He was sent to prison.

After more than 10 years in the Assembly, Engel was elected to Congress in 1988. Initially, it was from the 19th District. Re-districting later moved him to the 17th District and eventually to the 16th District.

Since 2019, Engel has been the chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.