The AOC Effect? Longtime NY Democratic Reps Face Formidable Challengers

WCBS 880 Newsroom
October 12, 2019 - 6:41 pm
Election Day New York

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Some of New York's longtime Democratic representatives are getting ready to ramp up their primary campaigns—their win no longer a guarantee.

In past years, incumbents might have been unopposed in the primary or at most, they’d have to fend off a couple of unknowns. But that has changed as left-leaning candidates enter the fray.  

“Many people are paying attention to politics and paying attention like they never have before,” said Melanie D'Arrigo, a progressive activist challenging Rep. Tom Suozzi.

D'Arrigo is one of four people looking to unseat Suozzi.

“We need to make sure that we’re electing the right representatives who are going to make choices on behalf of people,” D'Arrigo said.

It’s the same story for 14-term incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who is facing a challenge from attorney Suraj Patel.

“Simply holding a job doesn’t entail you to keep it. You’ve got to deliver,” Patel says in a campaign ad.

A host of other representatives are also facing primary challengers: Jerry Nadler, Yvette Clarke and Eliot Engel are among the other long-time incumbents that may see a competitive primary.

There are concerns that with so many people looking to pull off a surprise win—a la Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's victory over Rep. Joseph Crowley in 2018—that they might cancel each other out by splitting the vote and clearing the way for the incumbent.

D’Aarigo says there’s still plenty of time for campaigns to separate themselves.

“I do think there are a lot of Democrats that should be nervous,” she said.