Two years ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stunned political observers by beating Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in a congressional primary, going on to becoming one of the most progressive and outspoken members of Congress.
Now, wrote Michelle Goldberg for The New York Times, the "next AOC" could be about to pull off an upset in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests, in the form of one Jamaal Bowman, who is taking on Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY).
"Engel’s district, New York’s 16th, encompasses parts of Westchester, some quite wealthy, and of the Bronx," wrote Goldberg. "As Bowman told me, if it were a country it would be one of the most unequal in the world. Though it’s majority-minority, affluent white people tend to vote in primaries at higher rates than poorer people of color, and the suburbanites in the New York 16th are probably not as left-leaning as the young gentrifiers who helped elect Ocasio-Cortez. Engel seemed safe."
"But the political world of three months ago no longer exists," wrote Goldberg. "'The coronavirus and where we are now, it’s like the Great Depression and the civil rights movement at the same time,' Bowman told me. The campaign he’s running, centered on racial and economic justice, seems to match the moment. Engel’s, to put it mildly, does not. At a news conference in the Bronx, he was caught on a hot mic asking for a speaking slot, saying, 'If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.'"
"The election on June 23 will thus be a test of whether the energy on American streets translates into votes," wrote Goldberg. "Engel is a 16-term incumbent, the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. If he’s dethroned by a political newcomer calling for defunding the police, it could be as politically earthshaking as Ocasio-Cortez’s victory two years ago."
"When Bowman talks about redirecting funds from the police to social services, he draws on his experiences in education," wrote Goldberg. "Before he helped found Cornerstone Academy of Social Action, a well-regarded Bronx middle school, in 2009, he was the dean of students at a high school where part of his job was to monitor the metal detectors as his black and Latino students arrived. 'I felt like a corrections officer. I didn’t feel like an educator,' he said."
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