Going into Tuesday’s primary, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said she realized that despite her popularity, her re-election to the 14th Congressional District isn’t a shoe-in.
AOC left little to chance in what was viewed as a tough primary day with significant mail-in votes as she faces off with two well financed challengers. She said she understood the results might not be certain for weeks.
The freshman Congresswoman pulled out all the stops Tuesday afternoon, bringing in a loud-speaker truck plastered with her image and calling on voters to go to the primary polls. She walked the streets of Astoria, a stones throw from the P.S. 70 polling site on 43rd Street to convince voters to give her a second term in congress.
As things turned out, she might not have much to worry about. As of Wednesday morning, Ocasio-Cortez held a commanding lead in the primary, with 72.6% of the vote versus her closest challenger, CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera with 10.4%, before the paper ballots were counted.
In the last election, AOC pulled a 4,000 vote victory in her quest to join Congress, but she is undeterred.
“Especially with the way I won the first time, I have always known to never ever ever take a seat in congress or in general, this seat belongs to the people and it is our responsibility to work hard and earn it,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “So from the very beginning of this race before I had any challengers I knew that I must run like I’m always 10 points behind.”
AOC raised more than $10 million for her campaign, but has taken few television ads. She said she uses her resources differently.
“I’ve always used my resources differently from a traditional candidate, which means that my money doesn’t go to flashy TV ads, or corporate consultants – but instead, goes directly back into the community,” she said. “That includes field organizers, outreach, organizers, and the advocates that we have on the ground 24/7 to make sure we are organizing our small businesses, community boards and having that direct community outreach.”
“In addition we’ve started a second PAC, the Courage to Change PAC, to support candidates that come from backgrounds like mine who don’t have access to the traditional large networks of big money,” she added, “not just keeping organizing in my district strong, but we also make sure we spreading the love and allowing organizing to happen in other parts of the state and country.”
Ocasio-Cortez was critical that the state does not have mail-in ballots, but she did say electoral reforms have been passed recently to help the situation.
“We didn’t have early voting until this year, but we do not have mail in ballots, we do not have same day registration, these are all enormous obstacles and it puts New York far behind in voter access,” she said. “When it comes to the absentee ballots, I’m very disappointed that a lot of people did not get their absentee ballots after they requested them. This is a process that will need a lot more oversight and a lot more investment in, because to only have one day voting, and only voting that works on one day, it leaves out working class people who have one or two jobs, the disabled, the elderly, and our access to the ballots should be as expansive as possible.”