Ocasio-Cortez stuns political pundits with upset in NYC’s 14th District

June 28, 2018

In a widely hailed political upset, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—a 28-year-old Democratic candidate seeking election to the U.S. House to represent the 14th Congressional District of New York—defeated ten-term Representative Joseph Crowley in the Democratic primaries on Tuesday, June 26. She won the race with 57.48% of the votes, against the incumbent’s 42.52%.

The district includes parts of two New York City boroughs—the Bronx and Queens—and is home to a population of 712,053 with a median household income of $47,000.

Ocasio-Cortez had not sought elected office prior to challenging Crowley, Ballotopedia reported.. She had previous political experience, however—having worked in Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D-Massachusetts) foreign affairs and immigration office from 2008 through 2009; and volunteered as an enthusiastic Millennial for Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vermont) 2016 presidential Democratic primary campaign.

Brand New Congress, a PAC founded by former Sanders presidential campaign staffers, encouraged her to challenge Crowley in this year’s primaries.Like Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez supported Medicare for all, housing as a human right, immigration justice, higher education for all, mobilization against climate change, and campaign finance reform.

Crowley reportedly was stunned by the defeat. A Crowley insider told Politico that the campaign had underestimated the “volatility” of the electorate.

“About two weeks ago, three weeks ago, we had our last poll which had Joe up by about 35 points. So the electorate’s really volatile,” the insider said, adding, “Crowley[‘s] campaign had a huge field program, but it’s still a district where Bernie [Sanders] got almost 45% of the vote. We took it seriously, I mean we spent $1.5 million dollars on it. … It was a bloodletting of Washington Democrats.”

“I feel confident he’s going to pull it out tonight,” Democratic City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who owes his position in part to Crowley, said shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Shortly after 10 p.m. Crowley was conceding and vowing to support the insurgent’s campaign.

“We have had our country on autopilot and we’ve been accepting what’s been happening,” Ocasio-Cortez told Refinery29 earlier this month. “And what’s happening in this country is indicative that we need new leadership. We need new leadership in the Democratic Party and we need new leadership in the country.”

Research contact: geoff.pallay@ballotpedia.org

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