The Official Manhattan Contrarian Foreign Correspondent -- otherwise known as my long-time friend from the East Bronx -- writes with some thoughts on the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the recent congressional primary in his district:
I have lived in the area now included in the 14th [Congressional District] since 1975. . . . [My part of t]he district [in the East Bronx] is a mix of 3, 2, and 1 family owner-occupied housing and apartments many of which are condos or co-ops. Originally mostly Italian, Irish, and Greek, [the area is] now much more ethnically diverse and somewhat gentrified with Hispanic Americans being the largest group. I can echo Mr Dooley in stating that the reason that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was elected was that few voters knew who she was or even that there was a Primary. There are virtually no socialist vote[rs] except possibly among the gentrified millenials.
Joe Crowley, after 10 terms, ignored his district particularly the Bronx neighborhoods. He was more concerned with becoming Speaker of the House. He didn't take his opponent seriously. He's a Queens guy, the successor to Congressman Manton, another Irishman. [Crowley] succeeded Manton as Queens County leader as well. Ms. Ocasio was elected because she was a young fresh face, attractive to boot, because Hispanics are now the largest bloc in the District, and because voters get tired of their representative for various reasons. Certainly being a Socialist only helped [Ms. Ocasio-Cortez] in the sense that that vote turned out and that nobody else knew [about the Primary]. Crowley didn't attack her on that because no White Catholic Democrat dares attack the left anymore. All of them move left to avoid primary fights. Cuomo, Pelosi, Durbin, etc. can't move fast enough away from their original ethnic/religious/philosophical base. But what happens when confronted by a real leftist who also has the advantage of being of the right ethnicity? They are very vulnerable. To the extent that Crowley had an Irish or Italian base he successfully turned them off years ago.
My polling place is around the corner from my home. I'm still a registered Democrat. Why would I bother to walk a block to vote for Crowley? I couldn't think of a reason. Apparently no one else could [either]. I am told there were no lines at the polls.
Some curious facts. Ms. Ocasio campaigned as the poor "immigrant" challenger. Actually her family may have been a bit more prosperous than Crowley's. She grew up in Yorktown in upper Westchester. Crowley was from a working class neighborhood in Queens. Crowley was 1st generation. His mother was born in Ireland. Neither of Ocasio's parents were immigrants.
As my friend notes, the truly remarkable thing about this election was the near total lack of enthusiasm among the voters for their long-time Congressman, who had risen to be the likely next in line for Speaker or Minority Leader. According to data from the New York Board of Elections, there are 322,000 registered voters in the district, of which 214,000 are registered Democrats. The vote totals from the election were 15,897 for Ocasio-Cortez and 11,761 for Crowley. Throw in a handful of blank and void ballots, and the total number showing up to vote was 27,826, for a turnout percentage of 13% among the Democrats.
The Republican candidate for this seat in November is a guy named Anthony Pappas, an economics professor at St. Johns University. So far his campaign has been virtually non-existent. Perhaps now it will wake up. I would not give him much of a chance in this district, but given how crazy his opponent is, you never know. I do suspect that the Official Manhattan Contrarian Foreign Correspondent may be voting Republican this time out.