Last night, there were a small number of primary elections held all over the country. The #BlueWave claimed a number of important victories for progressives and people of color.
The most shocking result by far was in the Congressional primary race between Joseph Crowley and the victorious Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s District 14, which covers parts of the Bronx and Queens. Crowley is a 14-year incumbent, head of the Queens Democratic Party, has never been meaningfully challenged, and was a favorite for replacing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. He is popular and powerful. Ocasio-Cortez is 28 (no, there’s no typo), a former restaurant worker and organizer who spent a fraction of Crowley’s budget, making this now-famous video from her own home.
It was a blow out: her 57.5 percent to his 42.5.
She was endorsed by the Justice Democrats, Democratic Socialists of America, Move On and Common Defense, an organization of progressive veterans. Crowley was so confident that he was going to win, he refused to debate Ocasio-Cortez, earning him this negative editorial from the New York Times. This is a blue district, so she will be the youngest woman ever to serve in the House of Representatives. It’s an enormous message to establishment Democrats that they can be outorganized. “We beat a machine with a movement,” she said.
This is what Democrats for America wrote about Ocasio-Cortez: "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the army of grassroots volunteers who delivered this jaw-dropping victory tonight didn't just win a difficult race, they won a primary campaign that most laughed at them for even waging. They earned every single vote, not by currying favors with the powerful, but by running an authentic, visionary campaign driven by bold ideas like Medicare-for-All, tuition-free college, robust criminal justice reform, and a federal jobs guarantee. They made it clear that Democrats need the courage to change.”
Common Defense, with 150,000 members who are veterans and their families, formed in 2016 to “mobilize veterans and defeat Donald Trump,” released this statement from Executive Director Pam Campos (former Air Force military intelligence analyst): According to Common Defense Executive Director Pam Campos, who served as an Air Force military intelligence analyst, “Tonight's historic, seismic victory is a strong testament to the power of our movement, and of our communities. For too long and too often, veterans and military families have been counted out and dismissed as a force for progressive values. Tonight, we are overwhelmed to see hope and renewed principled leadership headed to Washington, and are proud to have been part of the victory of our endorsed champion for change, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”
Lest anyone become overconfident about the #BlueWave, it’s important to remember that this is a very progressive, very racially and economically diverse district, and that Crowley had simply not kept up with his changing district. Similar results in other places will be harder to generate. Nonetheless, establishment Democrats have got to be asking themselves some hard questions this morning.
Also exciting is my friend Ben Jealous’s win of the Democratic primary for Governor of Maryland. Ben is a former organizer, formerly President of the NAACP. Environmentalist journalist and activist Bill McKibben says he may be the greenest candidate of the 2018 season. Jealous will run in the general against incumbent Republican Governor Larry Hogan in November.
I’ve also been paying attention to Native Americans, who are running in record numbers this year.
Indian Country Today reported on races in Utah, Oklahoma and Colorado. Oklahoma Republicans Tom Cole (District 4) and Markwayne Mullin (District 2) are the only tribal members currently serving in Congress. Indian Country Today had this to say about District 2.
The Democrats in the second district showed up to vote in greater numbers than the Republicans. That could be that there is more interest in the Democratic primary -- or a signal for the fall election. There were 85, 892 votes cast for Democrats in this district and 60,250 votes for the Republican candidates. This was the only congressional district in Oklahoma where the party vote was that see-saw. Remember Oklahoma is a red state. Deep red.
If you want to keep up with the Native vote, follow Indian Country Today and Mark Trahant.