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Queens Chronicle

QUEENS VOTES 2018 Ocasio-Cortez on the ballot in NY-14

Crowley expects easy primary win

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Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2018 10:30 am

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) officially has a primary challenger for the first time since 2004.

Facing the longtime member of Congress on the June 26 ballot will be Bronx resident, progressive activist and first-time political candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

A volunteer organizer for the 2016 presidential bid of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ocasio-Cortez submitted about 5,400 petition signatures to the city Board of Elections last month — well beyond the required 1,250 signatures for congressional races.

“It felt surreal, it was incredible,” she said of getting on the ballot in a Tuesday interview. “Regardless of the outcome, we’ve already made history.”

This year marks the first time Crowley, who represents the state’s 14th Congressional District, has faced a Democratic primary challenger since he represented NY-7 prior to redistricting six years ago.

The 2004 primary was no contest, however, as Crowley crushed former state Sen. Dennis Coleman by 44 percentage points in what was a low-turnout race.

In a Monday statement, Crowley campaign spokesperson Vijay Chaudhuri said the 10-term congressman expects a similar result when he squares off with Ocasio-Cortez at the ballot box next month.

“The people of Queens and the Bronx have elected Joe Crowley to represent them in Congress by an overwhelming majority each and every time his name has appeared on the ballot,” Chaudhuri said. “This year will be no different.”

If Ocasio-Cortez is to pull off a stunning upset of the House Democratic Caucus chairman — whom insiders view as a top candidate for speaker of the House, should Democrats retake the chamber — she will have to overcome a number of massive hurdles, beginning with fundraising.

In a number of congressional and senatorial races across the country, progressive insurgents have outraised not just Republican incumbents, but Democratic officeholders as well. However, Crowley has proven to be one of Washington’s most prolific fundraisers.

According to the Federal Election Commission, he’s banked $2.7 million in contributions since the start of 2017 and his campaign has almost $1.6 million on hand.

Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez — despite her popularity in progressive circles — raised just $115,854 through March and has just $48,524 on hand. Where the strength of her campaign lies, she says, is in who’s been donating.

Like Sanders did in his race, Ocasio-Cortez has pledged not to take money from political action committees or special interests.

And according to the FEC, donations of less than $200 made up 79 percent of her contributions — OpenSecrets.org shows that less than 1 percent of Crowley’s overall funds came from donations that small.

One of Ocasio-Cortez’s biggest contributors is actress and political activist Susan Sarandon, records show, who has given her campaign $1,750.

In addition to fundraising, Crowley also has a leg up with endorsements. Last week, two dozen powerful labor unions — including the New York State AFL-CIO and 32BJ SEIU — announced they were backing the Queens Democrat’s re-election bid.

“Joe Crowley is a true champion for the cause of all working people with a proven record of standing up for the middle class,” state AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said.

Ocasio-Cortez, however, responded by stating she is the real “labor candidate.”

“I have stood for a $15 minimum wage longer than my opponent has,” she added.

Giffords, the gun safety group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona — who was one of 19 people shot in 2011 by a gunman wielding a semiautomatic pistol — also backed Crowley in late April.

Ocasio-Cortez has landed a number of endorsements herself, mostly from progressive political groups like the Justice Democrats, both the Queens and Bronx chapters of Our Revolution and the New York City Democratic Socialists of America — the latter of which she said she is most proud of.

“What I look for is the support of people who do the work on the ground in terms of actually working with families, tenants and labor organizers,” she said.

Recognizing the challenges she faces, she said that while she thinks she has a real chance to beat Crowley — “we’re hearing he’s getting really nervous” — her run is also about creating a “long-lasting, sustainable” progressive movement.

“We’re trying to do something more than win an election,” she said. “If we can break 40 percent, that will send a very strong message that the machine is not as strong as everyone thinks it is.”

If re-elected, Crowley has pledged to push legislation regarding gun control and tenants’ rights, among other issues.

Should she pull the upset, Ocasio-Cortez has promised to push Medicare for all, tuition-free college and the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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1 comment:

  • John O posted at 2:05 pm on Thu, May 10, 2018.

    John O Posts: 4

    Thank you Queens Chronicle for reporting on this important news.