Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) became the first Democratic incumbent to lose his primary election Tuesday. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old socialist, ran an insurgent campaign focused on Medicare for all, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and tuition-free higher education.
She has now taken down a man widely considered a candidate for the next Speaker should Democrats retake the House.
Crowley first took office in 1999, and Ocasio-Cortez marked his first challenger in 14 years. She garnered national attention as she has waged war against the congressman’s corporate donations and centrist policy record.
Despite the hype, Crowley, who represented New York’s 14th district, was widely considered a heavy favorite in the race.
Ocasio-Cortez consistently hit Crowley for not accurately representing the district, saying in a campaign ad — without naming him — that it’s “time we acknowledge that not all Democrats are the same.”
“A Democrat who takes corporate money, profits off foreclosure, doesn’t live here, doesn’t send his kids to our schools, doesn’t drink our water or breathe our air cannot possibly represent us,” Ocasio-Cortez says as the video shows her riding the subway, speaking at a local event, and walking through the district.
She goes on, saying, “What the Bronx and Queens needs is Medicare for all, tuition-free public college, a federal jobs guarantee, and criminal justice reform. We can do it now.”
On Tuesday night, Oscasio-Cortez’s margin of victory was so large that she claimed victory before any major media outlet had called the race, saying, “We beat a machine with a movement.”
— we're going to abolish ICE (@SeanMcElwee) June 27, 2018
Despite being a heavy favorite, Ocasio-Cortez seemed to have spooked Crowley in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Crowley sent a surrogate to debate Ocasio-Cortez instead of appearing himself. (Crowley said he was out of town, though he tweeted photos of himself in New York the day of the debate.)
In a bizarre twist, Rep. Crowley sent a woman with slight resemblance to me as his official surrogate to last night’s debate.@repjoecrowley’s surrogate said he is in full support of Trump’s embassy change in Israel last month (where 60 people died).
The community was in shock. https://t.co/LvNj0rlhFw
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) June 19, 2018
As it turned out, he was right to be spooked. CNN analyst Harry Enten called her win Tuesday night “THE upset” of the primary season.
Folks, this could be THE upset in the making this primary season. Joe Crowley is down 16 points with 43% of the vote in. This is no drill. This could really be happening.
— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) June 27, 2018
Cynthia Nixon, who is running for New York governor — and will face a state primary in September — endorsed Ocasio-Cortez Monday, with just hours left before the election.
“Alexandria’s running an inspiring, insurgent, progressive campaign powered by the people,” Nixon said. “She represents the future of the Democratic party.”
Ocasio-Cortez was endorsed by the New York City Democratic Socialists. In a recent interview with Vogue, she spoke about socialism’s future in the U.S, saying, “There is no other force, there is no other party, there is no other real ideology out there right now that is asserting the minimum elements necessary to lead a dignified American life.”