Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: 28-year-old socialist Latina woman from Bronx hailed as 'future of Democrats' defeats Joe Crowley in primary

Woman in her twenties in from South Bronx inspired strong grassroots support to oust a leading fellow Democrat from Congress

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 27 June 2018 03:34 BST
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeats fellow Democrat Joe Crowley in New York primary elections

America’s Democratic party is reeling from the shock of a 28-year-old newcomer ousting one of its stalwarts in the party’s New York primary on Tuesday.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old member of the Democratic Socialists of America, from the South Bronx, who volunteered for Bernie Sanders, used a grassroots campaign to beat Joe Crowley, a 10-term representative who many had expected to lead the Democrats in congress.

The result is a sign of the growing strength and appetite on the left to insert itself into federal politics and reject a Democratic establishment that has been criticised for its cosy relationship with major industries and reluctance to embrace leftwing policies on issues like healthcare and banking reform.

Mr Crowley is the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and was widely believed to have had ambitions to become speaker of the house if Democrats were to regain control of congress in November.

But his opponent appeared to tap into leftwing winds that have now blown those ambitions away. The Tuesday results have even been compared to the ouster of former Republican representative Eric Cantor, who was a top member of Congress with major leadership aspirations when he was defeated in his formerly safe primary in 2014 by a far-right candidate as a part of the Tea Party wave.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign managed to rally high levels of grassroots support, an echo of the type of support that went to a presidential candidate she once organised for: Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who ran a progressive Democratic primary campaign against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Ocasio-Cortez told AP: “The community is ready for a movement of economic and social justice. That is what we tried to deliver.”

Born and raised in the South Bronx, she had no doubts about her ability to connect with voters.

“I live in this community,” she said. “I organised in this community. I felt the absence of the incumbent. I knew he didn’t have a strong presence”.

Donald Trump, on social media at least, seemed equally excited about Mr Crowley’s defeat.

“Perhaps he should have been nicer, and more respectful, to his President!” Mr Trump tweeted, oddly taking credit for a victory by a candidate well to the left of Mr Crowley. He added: “The Democrats are in Turmoil!”

Ms Ocasio-Cortez campaign raised more small-dollar donations than any politician serving from New York City, both in terms of the total amount, and as a percentage of her overall fundraising haul.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez is running to represent a diverse district covering parts of Queens and the Bronx, on a platform that includes Medicare for all and abolishing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Before winning the primary, the campaign had already claimed credit for pushing Mr Crowley to the left on issues, and made him the only member of Democratic Congressional leadership to endorse universal healthcare.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez will now head into the general election in a district – New York’s 14th – where Mr Crowley won re-election in 2016 over his Republican challenger with 82.9 per cent of the vote.

On Monday former Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon, who faces her own fight against New York’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, endorsed Mr Ocasio-Cortez.

“She represents the future of the Democratic Party,” Ms Nixon said. “Alexandria and I are joining together to take on the old boys’ club, rejecting corporate money and run people-powered campaigns that envision a progressive New York that serves the many, not just the few who can afford to buy influence.”

Additional reporting by AP

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in