The Democratic congressman has made a habit of brashly confronting Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene, often in public displays meant to attract attention.
Many of his colleagues had already left for the night, but as Representative Jamaal Bowman, Democrat of New York, stepped out onto the Capitol steps on Wednesday, he had business left to do: heckling Republicans.
“Have some dignity!” he yelled toward Representative George Santos, the New York freshman who is fighting federal fraud charges, and to a sea of TV cameras waiting below.
“Listen, no more QAnon, no more MAGA, no more debt ceiling nonsense,” he said as he pivoted to another confrontation, this time with Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who stood nearby.
The theatrical back-and-forth ended as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow member of the left-wing “Squad,” gave a slight tug to Mr. Bowman’s arm, repeating, “She ain’t worth it, bro” — but not before a handful of lawmakers whipped out cellphone cameras to capture the soon-to-be viral spat.
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In this hyperpartisan era, the country has no shortage of politicians willing to savage each other from across a hearing room or on social media. But Mr. Bowman, a media-savvy democratic socialist from the Bronx, has rapidly made a name for himself this spring by going where most of them have not: up to his opponents’ actual faces.
Mr. Bowman’s platform includes far-reaching left-wing policies that split his party. Still, his style — “middle school principal energy,” he calls it — appears to have captured the id of even more moderate Democrats and has fueled party speculation about his ambition.
A video in which an AR-15-owning House Republican from Kentucky tells Mr. Bowman, 47, to “calm down” as they argue over how to stop gun violence has already been viewed more than seven million times. A friendlier confrontation, with a conservative House colleague, spawned a full CNN debate.
“I don’t mean any harm,” Mr. Bowman said in an interview. “I ain’t trying to hurt nobody. But we’ve got to take America to the next level, and we are not moving with urgency.”
The approach also carries risks, especially for a Black man, some of which came into sharp relief on Thursday. That is when Ms. Greene, a combative Georgian with a history of spouting conspiracy theories and directly confronting her own political opponents, said that she had felt threatened by Mr. Bowman, even though video showed her smiling as they sparred.