Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sailed through her first primary challenge since being elected two years ago, all but securing her a second term in Congress.
As of Wednesday morning, Ocasio-Cortez was in the lead with 73 percent of the vote. Her opponent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a longtime news anchor and former Republican, had garnered 19 percent of the vote in New York’s 14th Congressional District. Although the final numbers from Tuesday’s primary won’t be known for several days, given the large number of absentee ballots used by voters to maintain public health amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press and other outlets called the race for Ocasio-Cortez late Tuesday night.
Ocasio-Cortez celebrated the victory as proof her shocking 2018 upset win against 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley—which catapulted her into the national spotlight as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress—was no “fluke.”
“Tonight we are proving that the people’s movement in NY isn’t an accident. It’s a mandate,” she wrote.
“What you all have shown is that a people’s movement here is not an accident, it is a mandate,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a virtual event on Facebook and Youtube on election night. “This absolutely strengthens us. It’s not just about winning or losing, but so much of this is about how we win. To win with that kind of mandate is transformative, and it tells us that our policy positions are not an accident.”
Despite polling that showed Ocasio-Cortez in good standing with her constituents—surveys conducted by her campaign last month found that 79 percent of likely Democratic voters had a favorable view of her—she spent heavily throughout the primary. She shelled out $6 million on the race after raising more than $10.5 million. By comparison, Caruso-Cabrera spent nearly $1 million and raised about $2 million.
The two traded jabs along the campaign trail. Caruso-Cabrera tried to attack Ocasio-Cortez as a creature of Washington who was out of step with her community. She also criticized the 30-year-old congresswoman for her progressive policies, which she said made her a “divisive” and “polarizing” figure within the Democratic Party.
Ocasio-Cortez and her team portrayed Caruso-Cabrera as a candidate backed by corporate interests, highlighting reports that Wall Street executives and pro-Trump donors were funding her campaign. In several ads that aired just before Election Day, Ocasio-Cortez also criticized her opponent for once being a registered Republican and for living at Trump Tower in Manhattan before moving to the 14th district last year.
“Wall Street CEOs, from Goldman Sachs to Blackstone, poured in millions to defeat our grassroots campaign tonight. But their money couldn’t buy a movement,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Tuesday.
In a statement after the primary, Caruso-Cabrera thanked her supporters and her family for their help throughout the campaign. She did not mention Ocasio-Cortez’s victory.
“Together, we must continue the charge forward toward November. We must rally and support the standard bearer of our Democratic party, Joe Biden. Only through unity will we lead the way forward as Democrats and restore integrity to the democratic process,” Caruso-Cabrera said.
Ocasio-Cortez will face Republican challenger John Cummings in November, a retired New York Police Department officer. But the freshman Democrat is the heavy favorite heading into the general election. New York’s 14th Congressional District, which includes portions of Queens and the Bronx, is reliably blue.
Update (6/24/2019, 2:35 p.m. ET): This story has been updated to include comments from Representative Ocasio-Cortez during a virtual election night event.
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