Democrat Joseph Crowley Loses Bid to Latina Socialist Woman

Rep. Joseph Crowley and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi following a meeting of the House Democratic caucus at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 31 2018 in Washington DC

For many, particularly those outside her district, their first introduction was a brilliant ad the Ocasio-Cortez campaign posted just a month ago.

Political analysts see her 15 percentage point victory as the biggest political upset since Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost in 2014 to a little-known right-wing professor, Dave Brat.

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.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez ran in NY as a working-class daughter of an immigrant, casting Mr Crowley as elitist and out of touch with the community.

In a statement, Crowley congratulated Ocasio-Cortez on her victory and said he looked forward to supporting her against Republican Anthony Pappas in November.

In the run-up to Tuesday's election, Ocasio-Cortez, the daughter of a Puerto Rican mother and a father from the South Bronx, said, "What I want the party and people all over the country to know is that my campaign represents authentic, accountable racial and social justice". She has never before held political office and ran much of her campaign while working as a bartender at Flats Fix in Union Square.

Voters in her district responded by giving her almost 60% of their vote, despite the mainstream news ignoring her and her opponent outspending her 18 to 1.

Supporters in her district said that's what they were looking for when they picked her over U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley, a senior member of the Democratic leadership in the House and a longtime party boss in Queens.

Crowley blew off two debates with Ocasio-Cortez, earning him a scathing critique in the New York Times. "I was ecstatic for her and the people she is trying to serve but there's also a level of me saying, that's what I expected", said Ken Elmore, dBoston University dean of students.

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

"If you actually look at what they count as mass shootings, nearly none would be what most people would think of a mass shooting", added another.

Ocasio-Cortez was initially thought of as a long-shot candidate, and her grassroots campaign launched extensive outreach to New York's 14th district constituents. In the face of skyrocketing economic inequality, massive tax cuts exclusively for the rich and powerful, and immigration policies that would leave any moral person appalled, it's easy to understand where this cynicism comes from. Instead, she managed to raise more small donations than any other congressional candidate in NY, which allowed her to campaign sincerely on a platform for economic justice, while exposing Crowley as a centrist who does not represent real change. Crowley, whose district includes parts of the Bronx and Queens, has been in Congress since 1999 and had not seen opposition in a primary in 14 years.

Following Ms Ocasio-Cortez's win, dictionary Merriam-Webster tweeted that socialism emerged as their top search item.

Ocasio-Cortez got her first taste of professional politics while working for the late Senator Ted Kennedy on immigration casework and foreign affairs.

"We saw these numbers coming in, we couldn't believe it".

"She is the ideal intersectional candidate", said Nomiki Konst, an adviser to the Sanders-backed progressive group Our Revolution. "When people feel like they are being spoken directly to, I do feel like they'll do things like turn out in an off-year, midyear primary".

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