Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory over U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley in last week’s Democratic primary shocked the borough, city, state and country, and it could lead to the start of a new movement away from the political norm.
If her win tells us anything, it’s that voters in New York’s 14th Congressional District are ready for change and want new blood to represent them. And others could soon follow.
Ocasio-Cortez received the majority of votes in both the Queens and the Bronx parts of the district — she secured more than 11,800 votes out in Queens and nearly 4,100 in the Bronx. Both figures bested Crowley’s numbers.
That a 28-year-old neophyte ousted a veteran congressman shows that times are changing. This could be just the first domino to fall. And it would seem no seasoned elected official is safe.
Crowley was thought to have no problem pushing Ocasio-Cortez aside, given his experience and track record as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and the Queens County Dem machine. As the fourth most powerful Democratic in Congress, he was in line to receive the nod to replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi if the Democrats won back the House this fall. And in the blink of an eye, everything changed.
But what does this mean for the future of our lawmakers here in Queens?
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney held her ground with a primary victory over Suraj Patel with 58.8 percent of the votes, while U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks downed his two opponents in a landslide, with 81.5 percent of the votes.
Maloney and Meeks were expected to win their primaries, though it was thought Patel might have been able to upset Maloney due to his new age campaign tactics.
Even in defeat, Patel showed that voters can be reached in ways that veteran officials may not have previously considered. He campaigned through social media to appeal to millennial supporters and used a dating app in an effort to get out the vote. And he captured 41.2 percent of the votes in the 12th District, which showed that a new young candidate can provide a scare.
Patel’s campaign, along with Ocasio-Cortez’s upset over Crowley, both prove that young candidates can appeal to voters and are here to stay.
Moving forward, Queens politicians — and elected officials across the country — must consider young emerging candidates as possible threats to their seats more so than they ever had before. It’s a new age of politics, one where youth could soon trump experience.