Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s defeat of Rep. Joe Crowley in Tuesday’s Democratic primary was a political stunner, an upset that sent shock waves from New York’s 14th Congressional District to Washington, D.C., and beyond.
Crowley, the No. 4 Democrat in the House, was seen as a likely successor to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. And he’s the leader of the Queens County Democratic organization that wielded enormous influence over New York City politics. But Ocasio-Cortez beat him — and by a comfortable margin.
And it seems no one was more surprised about Ocasio-Cortez’s sound victory than the candidate herself.
“It was just so shocking,” Ocasio-Cortez said on “CBS This Morning” — one of at least four national interviews the 28-year-old former Bernie Sanders organizer gave on Wednesday morning.
Challenger @Ocasio2018 toppled one of the top Democrats in Congress, @repjoecrowley, Tuesday night in their primary in the 14th District. The victory stunned even her, live on our channel. #NY1Politics https://t.co/fnK1O0bacz pic.twitter.com/RjuqHJpn1p
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) June 27, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez won by 15 points over Crowley, a 10-term incumbent who had not faced a primary challenger in 14 years, sending a signal to the Democratic establishment that voters want fresh blood, and reigniting talk of Pelosi’s future as the party’s leader in the House.
“I think it’d be inappropriate to commit to any one individual before we’ve even won back the House in November,” Ocasio-Cortez told NPR. “Let’s make sure we do that, and then we can have that conversation.”
To say Ocasio-Cortez is a political newcomer is putting it mildly. Less than a year ago, the Bronx-born community organizer was working as a bartender at a taco and tequila bar in Manhattan. Crowley’s district was altered in the latest round of redistricting to take in a big piece of the Bronx.
This photo is from Nov. 14, 2017. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, was then working as a bartender.
Less than a year later, she defeated the likely next Speaker of the House, and will almost certainly be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress pic.twitter.com/JgHjdQWAF6
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) June 27, 2018
“Working class Americans and voters here have been waiting for an unapologetic champion for economic, social and racial dignity in the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CBS. “And we provided a very direct message, a very clear message.”
Or, as the self-described democratic socialist put it in her viral campaign ad: “It’s time we acknowledge that not all Democrats are the same.”
Conservatives were quick to stick Ocasio-Cortez with the “socialist” label and point to her far-left views on immigration — including the call to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
“I don’t just question the patriotism of the ‘abolish ICE’ movement. I question their sanity,” Michelle Malkin said on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday. “Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America … These are shrieking radicals who oppose any immigration enforcement.”
But Ocasio-Cortez has been unapologetic about her stance, telling Yahoo News earlier this week that ICE is “a moral outrage and an embarrassment to America.”
“I don’t see how anyone who learns of the terrible moral injustices that ICE has perpetrated would not call for its absolute and total abolition,” she said.
“What we’re really talking about is reimagining immigration to be humane,” Ocasio-Cortez said on NPR. “And in a way that is transparent and accountable.”
On CBS, Ocasio-Cortez called President Trump’s administration, including its immigration policies, “a form of extremism” that should challenged.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to be very bold and very strong in our values and be very clear cut in what those values look like,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We shouldn’t be afraid of bold policies that chart a vision for the future of America that we want.”
On CNN, Ocasio-Cortez was asked if she would vote to impeach Trump if Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation concludes he obstructed justice.
“I would support impeachment,” she said. “Ultimately what we need to focus on is when people potentially break the law … that no one is above the law.”
But Ocasio-Cortez also said she isn’t interested in engaging in a public feud with Trump.
“What we need to do is lay out a plan and a vision that people can believe in,” she said. “And getting into Twitter fights with the president is not exactly, I think, where we’re going to find progress as a nation.”
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