Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Peter Haskell/WCBS 880

The New Wave: A Political Earthquake In A New York Congressional District

July 03, 2018 - 7:00 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- The political world is still buzzing about a massive upset in the primary last week in the 14th New York Congressional District – covering parts of the Bronx and Queens.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported in this last segment of “New Wave: Women in Politics,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory over 10-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley was a political earthquake that shook up the Democratic establishment.

“I know that New York machine politics is rough… to choose to expose yourself to that is a big decision,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But we can’t afford to be scared right now. We have to be courageous. We need to have the courage to change, and we need to have the courage to grow and change our representation.”

Ocasio-Cortez is a 28-year-old Latina. While her age and ethnicity might have been a factor, so were her roots in the community and her energy.

“We’ve mobilized tens of thousands of phone calls and door knocks in the district, and we have a presence here,” she said. “We are here, and oftentimes, when we knock on the door, it’s the first time that anybody has knocked on an individual’s door for a congressional campaign in our district.”

Crowley’s complacency allowed Ocasio-Cortez to tap into a certain restlessness.

“We have mobilized an electorate that has never been excited about politics before,” she said.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Campaign Signs
Sophia Hall/WCBS 880

That might be where the lessons from her race are transferrable to other places and beyond the new wave of women.

Zephyr Teachout is a Democrat running for New York attorney general. She gave Gov. Andrew Cuomo a primary scare four years ago.

“It’s an enormous show to the whole state and to the whole country that the old rules don’t apply, and that people are hungry for big visions; true structural change; that we can’t just keep going with the calcified politics of ‘good enough,’” Teachout said.

Zephyr Teachout
Peter Haskell/WCBS 880

But Ocasio-Cortez believes gender does matter.

“Right now, Congress is 80 percent male, and that creates really big blind spots when we’re having conversations about health care, and family-based policies, and work, and I think that when we have a Congress that represents across all of our intersection – the people who reside and live in the United States – we get better policy,” she said.

That thirst for change seems true for Republicans as well as Democrats.