Shane Goldmacher and Jonathan Martin, New York Times, June 26, 2018
Representative Joseph Crowley of New York, once seen as a possible successor to Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader of the House, suffered a shocking primary defeat on Tuesday, the most significant loss for a Democratic incumbent in more than a decade, and one that will reverberate across the party and the country.
Mr. Crowley was defeated by a 28-year-old political newcomer, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former organizer for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, who had declared it was time for generational, racial and ideological change.
Mr. Crowley, the No. 4 Democrat in the House, had drastically outspent his lesser-known rival to no avail, as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign was lifted by an aggressive social media presence and fueled by attention from national progressives hoping to flex their muscle in a race against a potential future speaker.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had used Mr. Crowley’s role in the leadership, and the fact that he was the head of the local Democratic Party machine, against him in her bid to upend the existing political class. She will face Anthony Pappas, the Republican candidate, in the November general election.
The race was not close. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had more than 57 percent of the vote, with almost all precincts reporting.
Representative Joseph Crowley of New York during a news conference on Capitol Hill this month. Mr. Crowley lost the Democratic primary to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, a political newcomer from the Bronx who worked as an organizer for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is a native of the Bronx and a Latina in a Queens and Bronx district that is majority-minority, a fact she emphasized repeatedly on the trail against Mr. Crowley, who is white. In hindsight, the seat represented perhaps a perfect brew for an upset: a rusty incumbent, a charismatic challenger and a liberal district that gave Mr. Sanders more than 41 percent of the vote against Hillary Clinton.
She ran as a woman, as a young person, as a working-class champion, as an unabashed liberal and as a person of color. She piled up endorsements from national progressive groups in recent weeks and from Cynthia Nixon, who is running her own insurgent bid for governor against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Ms. Nixon attended the Ocasio-Cortez victory party.
“What I see is that the Democratic Party takes working class communities for granted, they take people of color for granted and they just assume that we’re going to turn out no matter how bland or half-stepping these proposals are,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said in a recent interview about why she was running.
A member of the Democratic Socialists of America, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez gathered endorsements from liberal groups like MoveOn, Democracy for America and People for Bernie. The news site The Intercept had urged her on, publishing a drumbeat of negative stories about Mr. Crowley, and glowing stories about her, in the campaign’s closing weeks.
Days before the election, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had unexpectedly left New York entirely to travel to Texas to protest the ongoing separation of children from their parents who crossed the border illegally.
That came on the heels of her call to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Mr. Crowley heated up his own rhetoric in response to her challenge, calling it a “fascist organization,” but stopped short of saying it should be dissolved.
Ten days before the primary, Mr. Crowley skipped a debate against Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, and instead sent a surrogate, a Latina former city councilwoman. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez called it “a bizarre twist” on Twitter to be seated across from someone “with slight resemblance to me” instead of her opponent.
Waging a sharp and sometimes personal campaign, she attacked Mr. Crowley for not living in New York and, specifically, sending his children to school near Washington. When there was tear gas released on protesters in Puerto Rico, she tagged Mr. Crowley on Twitter and wrote, “You are responsible for this.” And when he asked her at a debate if she would endorse him, if he prevailed, she pointedly refused.
Mr. Crowley was not caught totally off guard. He had campaigned aggressively in the last six weeks, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into television ads and mailers, often highlighting his opposition to Mr. Trump.
Mr. Crowley’s loss left Democrats in Washington stunned. In recent months, he had begun meeting with lawmakers in small groups in a quiet effort to prepare for a bid for the speakership.
Representative Steny Hoyer, a longtime rival of Ms. Pelosi’s, now is freed from having to worry about Mr. Crowley in his ambition to be leader. But some House Democrats, speaking anonymously to discuss a delicate topic, said Tuesday night that given the party’s changing face, it would be difficult to dump Ms. Pelosi for an older, white male lawmaker.
In a flurry of phone calls and text messages, Democratic lawmakers floated names such as Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Linda Sanchez of California, Joseph Kennedy of Massachusetts and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts as potential younger alternatives to Ms. Pelosi. But Ms. Pelosi has made clear she intends to seek the post again if Democrats take back the House and it is not clear that any potential alternative candidate could build a coalition to defeat her.