Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez irks people. For Republicans, she embodies the unrealistic socialism of most millennials. At the same time, many in her own party find her equally frustrating: she’s dragging the Democrats in a direction where most voters won’t follow. She hasn’t endorsed Joe Biden yet. She hogs the limelight. She’s irritatingly good at social media. Cockburn detects a hint of jealousy in their gripes.
But now, ahead of the 2020 election, her enemies are circling.
AOC faces four challenges for the Democratic nomination on June 23. It was five, but the pastor and city councilman Fernando Cabrera dropped his bid to run for Bronx borough president instead. He threw his support behind leading contender and CNBC contributor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera (no relation), who has already raised $1 million in the first quarter of 2020. Caruso-Cabrera, according to the New York Post, is ‘running as a moderate, pro-business democratic alternative to AOC’, and she’s earned the endorsement of the US Chamber of Commerce. The foreword of her 2015 book You Know I’m Right: More Prosperity, Less Government was written by Larry Kudlow, Trump’s National Economic Council director. In the book, Caruso-Cabrera describes Ronald Reagan as her favorite president.
Another of Ocasio-Cortez’s primary challengers has Republican bona fides: James Dillon stood for NY-14 on the GOP ticket against Joe Crowley in 1998. He only did this, however, as Rep. Thomas J. Matton had resigned to prevent a Democratic primary, allowing for his protégé Crowley to assume his seat uncontested. In their endorsement of Crowley at the time, the New York Times wrote:
‘Mr Dillon should be commended for his effort to give voters more of an option than the local political machines seem to have intended. But his positions on tax policy are extreme and his platform on foreign policy seems to call for American isolationism, except in regard to countries whose ethnic groups are represented in the district.’
Dillon has been posting campaign signs that read ‘say no to socialism’ around his neighborhood of Woodside, Queens.
Badrun Khan is a local activist also hoping to challenge AOC. In an appearance on Martha MacCallum’s Fox News show, Khan said of her opponent: ‘She’s Hollywood and Washington. She’s never in the district. She’s not sure what’s happening in the district. She opened her office pretty late after she was elected.’
If AOC can come through the New York primary unscathed, one of eight Republicans will be waiting for her on November 3. Eager Fox News viewers may recognize a few of them — it seems challenging Ocasio-Cortez is a surefire way to get a booking.
Ruth Papazian is a case-in-point: the Bronx resident appeared on Martha MacCallum’s show over a year ago to criticize AOC for her role in dissuading Amazon from building a second headquarters in Long Island City. Papazian, a writer for American Greatness, also runs an anti-AOC Facebook page called the Bronx Bolshevik Bulletin.
Scherie Murray, who has repeatedly run unsuccessfully as a Republican in New York, announced her candidacy in July 2019 with a campaign video: ‘Your representative in Washington chooses self-promotion over service, conflict over constituents, resistance over assistance.’ Critics have questioned Murray’s conservative credentials, given she voted for Obama twice and tweeted congratulations when Ocasio-Cortez ousted Joe Crowley in the 2018 primary.
Israel Ortega Cruz considers himself ‘a defender of the homeless in New York City‘ and has railed against AOC’s socialist policies. Upper East Side resident Miguel Hernandez meanwhile has a nightclub promoter as his campaign manager and paints himself as a working class alternative to the bourgeois Ocasio-Cortez. Living even further out is Rey Solano, a businessman with a medical supply company, of all things, who resides in Westchester County. ‘We already started looking at houses in Queens and the Bronx,’ he told Politico in August.
Jineea Butler, defeated Republican candidate for NY-13 in 2018 and founder of the Hip Hop Union, attempted to form her own political party to address urban issues before deciding to challenge AOC. Her party wanted Busta Rhymes or LL Cool J to run for governor of New York.
For readers concerned about ethnic representation in NY-14, fret not: there’s a white dude running. Civics teacher and retired NYPD cop John Cummings led in fundraising at the tail-end of 2019. Unlike many of the other candidates, he says the race isn’t personal, telling the New York Post ‘I’m not personally invested in this to go after her…that’s not my thing. I just think that people need common-sense representation.’
Cockburn should be frank. AOC will win in November, given her fundraising talents and national profile. Maybe one of these challengers will get a shot when she runs for Senate in 2022?