© 2023 KUNR
Celebrating 60 years in Northern Nevada and the Eastern Sierra
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Progressive Activist Defeats Longtime Democrat In New York Primary


One of the top House Democrats is losing his job. Joe Crowley lost a primary last night. It's huge news for the Democrats because Crowley was so senior and because of who defeated him. He lost to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - previously unknown, half his age, promising a new generation of leadership. Here's John O'Connor from member station WNYC.

JOHN O'CONNOR, BYLINE: In his concession speech, carried on NY1, the 10-term congressman and chairman of the Queens Democratic Party said he'll still focus on helping Democrats win back the House this fall.


JOE CROWLEY: Because I believe if we don't win back the House, we will not recognize the nation that we love.

O'CONNOR: Crowley is the No. 4-ranked Democrat in the House who was thought a potential speaker. His loss sends a message to national Democrats who were reluctant to endorse progressive issues like Medicare for all and abolishing the federal immigration agency. Winner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is 28 and a first-time candidate who is an organizer for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. She told NY1 that voters respected her message despite her inexperience.


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: We were so clear about our values. We were always naming what we wanted to accomplish. And whether people said, oh, can you get that done in this Congress or not, they knew that they wanted a congresswoman or a congress member that fought for those things.

O'CONNOR: The 14th District covers Queens and the Bronx. A majority of its residents are minorities, and Ocasio-Cortez argued that a Latina woman was more representative of the district’s voters than Crowley, who is white. She criticized Crowley for his reliance on political donations from Wall Street, real estate and political action committees, and she argued his role running the local party was a conflict of interest. Crowley has spent more than 15 times the money that Ocasio-Cortez spent, but she won 58 percent of the vote. The debate between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party has been simmering throughout the cycle. Ocasio-Cortez's victory is the first major win and could encourage Democrats to reconsider their positions on health care and other issues. For NPR News, I'm John O'Connor in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

John O’Connor is a reporter for StateImpact Florida, a project of WUSF, WLRN and NPR covering education. John writes for the StateImpact Florida blog and produces stories for air on Florida public radio stations.