Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez faces the risk of being “Crowleyed” in June, as one of her primary challengers accuses the democratic socialist millennial of gallivanting across the U.S. instead of tending to her constituents in New York’s 14th Congressional District.
Just like Joe Crowley, the district’s former representative who served for two-decades and became part of leadership in Washington, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez runs the risk of her voters growing increasingly frustrated with her lack of presence — and disconnect — at home, said Democratic primary challenger Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former business reporter and CNBC contributor.
“I want to be a representative to the people of the Bronx and Queens. She wants to be a national star,” Ms. Caruso-Cabrera told The Washington Times. “If she likes Hollywood, go to Hollywood.”
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez tells critics that she has held hundreds of events in her district since being elected in the 2018 midterms when Democrats took over the House.
Ms. Caruso-Cabrera, though, argues that the incumbent’s democratic socialist policies don’t line up with the people of the district, composed of parts of the Bronx and Queens, who are upset over the loss of tens of thousands of jobs from the canceled deal with Amazon that the congresswoman helped nix.
Commanding the media spotlight in Washington, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez spends her time touting progressive policies and pushing back against her party’s establishment.
She has backed several candidates in primaries across the country, attempting to upset moderate Democratic lawmakers she thinks are too aligned with President Trump.
And she’s been a fixture on the campaign trail with democratic socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, who is running against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the party establishment’s preferred pick for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Ms. Caruso-Cabrera said Ms. Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t backed changes to New York’s cash bail law, which aimed to curtail the number of people locked up but has backfired with continued incidents of crime. The challenger said the law has let violent people back on the streets.
She also said the people in New York’s 14th Congressional District are diverse, noting her own Cuban and Italian heritage.
“They have escaped socialism and they don’t like it,” she said. “That is another reason why I’m running.”
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez faces more than a dozen challengers ahead of her primary on June 23.
New York City Council member Fernando Cabrera, a moderate Democrat, echoed concerns over AOC’s absence in the district.
“Only a Democrat is going to be able to defeat her, and it’s going to be a moderate Democrat,” Mr. Cabrera told Politico. “She’s a no-show in the district. She hasn’t brought about anything except division within the party.”
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has welcomed the challengers, saying primaries are part of democracy.
“I’ve said for a long time that this would likely mean that I would have a primary and I’m comfortable with that. I’ve always known that and that’s why I work my butt off for my constituents,” she recently told reporters.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said she has hosted hundreds of events in her district, saying she isn’t “entitled” to “live in the House.”
“I feel like I have to earn the right,” she said.
And she denied campaigning for Mr. Sanders has pulled her away from her duties at home, saying she has only flown with the Democratic front-runner a few times over the past six months.
“Taking those couple of weekends hasn’t been a huge toll. I spend much more time in my district, than I do in, you know, anywhere else besides D.C. And so, it hasn’t been too tough at all,” she said.
• Gabriella Munoz contributed to this report.
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