AOC’s Seat in the House of Representatives Stands Contested in 2020

On June 26th of 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated Joe Crowley to become the current representative of New York’s 14th District. This is widely considered to be one of the biggest upset victories of the 2018 Midterms because she won 86% of the Democratic vote. She had the biggest percentage of Democratic support in her district compared to any politician in the country. Since then, Ocasio-Cortez has put forth a number of Congressional actions, and she has become a considerable target of right-wing media. Today she is one of the most polarizing political names throughout the country, and she has become the new face of the Democratic Socialist party. On July 10th of 2019, a Republican immigrant from Jamaica, Scherie Murray, announced that she would be running for Ocasio-Cortez’s position in 2020. Murray is one of many Republican candidates who have announced their campaign, turning many eyes towards the debate to come.

Throughout her political career, Ocasio-Cortez has not faced a voice of opposition, ultimately because the Republican party didn’t put forth a candidate. She has not debated anybody of a differing viewpoint, but she has appeared on several liberal podcasts and left-wing television outlets such as The Young Turks and The Breakfast Club. Ben Shapiro, a conservative radio host, pledged to donate $10,000 to her campaign if she took the podium at Politicon 2018, an invitation that was turned down by Ocasio-Cortez. 

Ocasio Cortez has been one of the most ambitious politicians speaking out against capitalism and has praised socialistic programs. Her release of the Green New Deal on February 7th of 2019 was of the most noteworthy, a bill initially endorsed by several Democratic candidates running in the 2020 presidential election. The bill calls for “upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification.” The bill also called for air travel to be replaced by high speed railways, and the retrofitting of every car in America, to address environmental concerns. This bill is Ocasio-Cortez’s plan to move the American economy towards more eco-friendly technology with the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2030. However, much of the technology that the bill proposes does not exist yet, making her opponents believe that the bill is largely unrealistic in today’s society.

In the first version of the bill, Ocasio-Cortez was criticized for her inclusion of the “unable or unwilling to work” clause. This meant that her plan would not only provide a high wage federal job for anyone who wants one, but also a basic income for anyone unable or unwilling to work. The day following the publishing of the bill, her top policy adviser, Robert Hockett, claimed on Tucker Carlson Tonight that Ocasio-Cortez never pushed anything of the sort and suggested that Tucker was looking at a doctored version. In the eyes of her opponents, not only did Ocasio-Cortez and her staff create a bill that didn’t make sense to them, but they then lied about it’s contents on live TV. This statement caught the attention of the entire political arena, and most importantly, the eyes of the residents of NY-14. This has led to her approval rating going from 57% on the day she was elected to 14% after the bill’s release according to CBNC. Once Kentucky Senator, Mitch McConnell, announced that the bill would be put to a vote in the Senate, Democratic presidential candidates took a step back, including those who initially endorsed the bill in the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The Senate voted 0-57 against the bill, and many of the DNC candidates voted present. In other words, they opted not to vote.

As of now, there are five other Republicans who have entered the race for Ocasio-Cortez’ position. These other candidates include former police officer and government teacher John Cummings, construction contractor Miguel Hernandez, medical journalist Ruth Papazian, and entrepreneur Antoine Tucker. The biggest name on the Republican side in 2020 is also Scherie Murray, a Jamaican-American immigrant and entrepreneur. She has been quoted saying: “NY-14 has a problem, and it’s called AOC” in a phone interview with Fox News correspondent Alex Pappas. After her campaign announcement, Murray made her first statement on the Fox News evening broadcast of “Hannity,” points out Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to keep Amazon from building a second warehouse inside of NY-14. Ocasio-Cortez described it as a “day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers [and] their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.” Though this decision was a big win for her and her party, it ultimately led to a loss of 25,000 possible jobs, which caused a dive in her approval rating, namely in the Bronx. Though this district has historically been Democratic, many people on both sides have criticized the policies put forward by Ocasio-Cortez and her staff. A recent poll done by a student activist with the Washington Examiner shows that less than 22% of residents favor her and her policies. While only 13.3% of the people questioned pledged to re-elect her in the 2020 election, 33.44% pledged to oppose her and 53.26% remained unsure of how they would vote in the next election. 

NY-14 has had long-standing Democratic affiliation, but after 10 years of Joe Crowley and a year of Ocasio-Cortez, locals may be looking for something new. Not just a fresh representative, but likely someone aligned with the GOP. Ocasio-Cortez has focused her campaign on the corporate greed of the Republican party, so it will be an interesting and difficult challenge facing off against a Republican who believes in a free market system. NY-14 will have to wait until the upcoming debate to see any more specific policies from either of the candidates.