Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic socialist activist from the Bronx, unseated longtime incumbent Joseph Crowley, the chair of the Queens Democratic Party and the House Democratic Caucus. Crowley was widely seen as a contender to be the next speaker of the House.
With 97 percent of the precincts reporting, Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic primary by more than 4,000 votes. In total, she garnered 57 percent of the vote in the district, which includes Astoria, Sunnyside, Jackson Heights and parts of the Bronx.
The third-generation Bronxite entered the race to shake up the political establishment, challenging the powerful Democrat in his first primary in 14 years.
She ran on a social and economic justice platform, campaigning on proposals like expanded Medicare For All, a federal jobs guarantee, tuition-free public college and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
On the campaign trail and in debates, Ocasio-Cortez regularly said that “not all Democrats are the same.” Although Crowley out-fundraised her ten-to-one, Ocasio-Cortez shunned corporate donations, she said.
In a debate against Crowley last week in Jackson Heights, Ocasio-Cortez pointed to “failed” Democratic leadership that lost the House, the Senate and the White House.
“It would be a profound mistake if we believe that the same leadership getting into this mess is going to get us out,” she said at the debate.
Crowley’s political career began in the Assembly, where he served for more than a decade. In 1999, former Congressman Thomas Manton, then head of the Queens Democratic Party, retired, but not before maneuvering to get his preferred successor on the ballot to replace him.
Crowley rose through the ranks in Washington, D.C., eventually landing as chair of the House Democratic Caucus last year before his stunning defeat on Tuesday.
In a statement, the outgoing congressman congratulated Ocasio-Cortez for her victory, and indicated his support for her in the general election.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to represent Queens and the Bronx,” Crowley said. “I am proud of the race we ran, and more importantly, proud of all of the work we’ve done to advance this community.”
He urged Democratic unity to face the “threat” coming from the White House.
“If we don’t win back the House this November, we will lose the nation we love,” he said. “This is why we must come together.”