Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, democratic socialist, beats 10-term incumbent in NYC primary

In a historic upset, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young democratic socialist of Latina descent, has defeated political veteran Joe Crowley in their party's congressional primary in New York City.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Latina and democratic socialist, defeated Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent, on Tuesday night in their party's congressional primary in New York City.

It was a devastating upset for the 56-year-old Crowley, a political veteran who outraised his opponent 10 to 1, skipped two debates with Ocasio-Cortez, and was thought by some to be the next Speaker of the House. Ocasio-Cortez, who earned 57.5 percent of the vote compared to Crowley’s 42.5 percent, seemed shocked by the results at an election party in a Bronx pool hall on Tuesday night.

“I cannot put this into words,” Ocasio-Cortez told a reporter at the party. “I cannot believe these numbers right now, but I do know that every single person here has worked their butt off to change the future of the Bronx and Queens.”

Ocasio-Cortez, daughter of a Bronx-born father and Puerto Rican mother, had worked as an organizer for the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. But more recently, the 28-year-old was working as a bartender in New York City to help support her family.

In a campaign ad, she said going into politics was never the plan.

“I never really saw myself running on my own,” she told New York magazine. “I counted out that possibility because I felt that possibility had counted out me. I felt like the only way to effectively run for office is if you had access to a lot of wealth, high social influence, a lot of dynastic power, and I knew that I didn’t have any of those things.”

On Tuesday night, Sanders, also a democratic socialist, congratulated Ocasio-Cortez.

“She took on the entire local Democratic establishment in her district and won a very strong victory,” he said in a statement. “She demonstrated once again what progressive grassroots politics can do.”

Ocasio-Cortez ran a boldly progressive platform that emphasized universal healthcare, a federal jobs guarantee, a $15 minimum wage, and the abolishment of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Her campaign went viral thanks to a video ad, produced by Detroit-based Democratic Socialist for America (DSA) activists, that leaned on Ocasio-Cortez’s underdog status.

“This race is about people versus money. We’ve got people. They’ve got money,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the ad.

Ocasio-Cortez has said she’d support the impeachment of President Donald Trump, noting that the president’s unwillingness to separate himself from his family’s business affairs amounted to “serious grounds in violations of the emoluments clause from day one,” as Politico wrote.

If elected, Ocasio-Cortez would become the youngest woman ever elected to congress.

Her victory could signal a major shift in the Democratic Party’s base, one showing that left-leaning voters are now willing to endorse more radical policy positions in an era of political polarization.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t think it’s a good thing for Democrats.

“The energy in the Democratic Party is self-avowed socialists, open borders,” McConnell said in an interview with Politico on Wednesday. “We even had a credible potential candidate for president in 2020 suggest we get rid of ICE, the border enforcement agency. I think the Democrats are going hard left.”

He added that most Americans don’t want to live in a “European socialist country.”

But Ocasio-Cortez instead framed her campaign as a return to the party’s roots.

“I hope that this reminds us of what the Democratic Party should be about, which is, first and foremost, accountability from the working-class people,” she said Tuesday night.

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