New York Congressional race upset has politicians in western Massachusetts taking notice

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the winner of a Democratic Congressional primary in New York, reacts while talking to the media Wednesday in New York. Ocasio-Cortez, 28, upset U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley, D-Queens, in Tuesday’s primary election AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Published: 6/28/2018 11:41:41 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The results of the primary in New York’s 14th Congressional District Tuesday may stand as among the biggest political upsets of recent years.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old former Bernie Sanders campaign organizer, defeated Rep. Joe Crowley, D-Queens, a longtime congressman, by a commanding margin. Ocasio-Cortez ran to Crowley’s left, with a platform that included issues such as the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Medicare for all and a federal jobs guarantee.

The results caught the attention of Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, who is attempting to topple Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, in the race for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District.

“I’m very excited,” said Amatul-Wadud, who added that she hasn’t really slept since the results came in.

She said that since the upset she has been receiving messages of support and donations from people across the district and across the country. She also said that she’s seen a lot of energy on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“It has been a very wild past 24 hours for me,” she said Wednesday.

Amatul-Wadud also said that Ocasio-Cortez’s election was significant for her as she was born in Queens and her mother was born in the Bronx. Indeed, she’d asked her family members in the district to vote for Ocasio-Cortez.

“It’s just been a beautiful thing to watch unfold,” she said.

Amatul-Wadud said that there has been no direct contact between the two campaigns, but that she would be sending out a congratulatory message to Ocasio-Cortez.

Neal, for his part, doesn’t appear to see the race as a harbinger in his own contest.

“I do not believe that one campaign is a reflection of a trend that is happening nationwide. Every congressional district is different, candidates run different campaigns, issues vary, and the voters get to decide who will best represent their unique concerns and interests,” said Neal, in a statement released by email to the Gazette. “I congratulate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her victory and look forward to working with her to secure a Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress this November.”

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, said that Crowley is a close friend. However, he also said that he is looking forward to working with Ocasio-Cortez, and that he intends to reach out to and congratulate her.

“I expect that she’ll be a great member of Congress,” he said.

He also noted that Ocasio-Cortez ran on a number of issues that he has advocated such as Medicare for all. A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, McGovern said that he didn’t know if Ocasio-Cortez had expressed a desire to join it, but that he expects she will be welcomed into the organization.

Bera Dunau can be reached at


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