Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), the number 4 Democrat in the House and a name that’s popped up for Speaker, has lost the primary to newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a far-left progressive, who organized for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during his presidential run.

The Two Candidates

Crowley began his Congressional career in 1999 when he represented the 7th District. In 2012, he was redistricted to the 14th district, which he has represented since 2013. He served as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus from 2013 – 2017.

Ocasio-Cortez interned for Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) when she attended Boston University. Her father died in 2008 and she worked as a bartender and waitress after college to help her mom financially. She also worked for the nonprofit National Hispanic Institute.

Even though she organized for Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez had no name recognition, especially against a 19-year veteran. After all,  Crowley raised $3.35 million. Ocasio-Cortez? $300,000. Her campaign refused all PAC money.

Ocasio-Cortez wants to abolish ICE and supports a $15 minimum wage:

CNN reported:

Ocasio-Cortez has also been at the front lines — literally so, last weekend, when she traveled to join protests at an ICE detention center in Texas — of the progressive backlash against the Trump administration’s border and immigration policies. Ocasio-Cortez has been a vocal proponent of the push to abolish the agency, an issue she ties back to her district’s diverse population.

“We have families and communities here (in the 14th District) from Ecuador and Colombia, Bangladesh, Korea, Pakistan, and I see them every day, many of them are very scared about what’s going on,” she said. “With my campaign, in terms of immigration, we’re trying to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got your back.'”

Crowley also targeted ICE, calling it “fascist,” but stopping short of demanding its elimination. During a televised debate with Ocasio-Cortez less than two weeks before the primary, Crowley argued that “simply abolishing the agency doesn’t take it out of the hands of (Attorney General) Jeff Sessions or this president.”

Reactions on Primary Night

The New York Daily News reported:

“It feels great,” she said after the race had been called for her. “It’s crazy. It means we need to expand our advocacy for working-class Americans and people of color.”

On hand at her victory party was Cynthia Nixon — who is hoping to pull off a similar upset against Gov. Cuomo in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in September.

“She ran an amazing campaign. She really spoke to her community,” Nixon said. “If you give them the chance, they will embrace a female leader who really speaks to them. If you give them chance, they will buck the status quo. They will elect a female leader who will really speak to them.”

The 14th District of New York is a relatively safe Democrat seat so more than likely Ocasio-Cortez will win the election in November. From CNN:

Ocasio-Cortez, an activist and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, won over voters in the minority-majority district with a ruthlessly efficient grassroots bid, even as Crowley — the fourth-ranked Democrat in the House — outraised her by a 10-to-1 margin.

This was the first time in 14 years a Democrat has attempted unseat Crowley, who chairs the Queens County Democrats. His defeat marks a potential sea change in party politics — a result with implications for Democrats nationwide that would recall, as optimistic progressives routinely noted during the campaign, former GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss to the insurgent, tea party-backed Dave Brat in June 2014.

Crowley took his loss in stride and said he will support her and other Democrats this November:

SO! Is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) smiling or cringing? Will Ocasio-Cortez’s victory give more people the courage to speak out against Pelosi? I know many have said they wouldn’t like her to become Speaker if the Democrats retake the House, but who knows if they’ll change their mind if that happens.

Fox News reported her statement:

In a statement, Pelosi described Crowley as “an unwavering champion for America’s working families for almost two decades” who “brought principled, unifying and forward-looking leadership to the historic challenges of the Trump Administration” as the Democratic caucus chair.

“I salute Chairman Crowley for a formidable legacy of achievement for the people of New York,” Pelosi concluded. “I congratulate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her victory.”

[Featured image via Facebook and Wikimedia Commons]


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