WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tuesday’s primary elections in New York showed signs of a progressive Black and Latinx wave ahead of November’s general election.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) easily won her primary. In a tweet thanking her supporters last night, Ocasio-Cortez said many naysayers dismissed her 2018 victory as “a fluke.”
When I won in 2018, many dismissed our victory as a “fluke.”
Our win was treated as an aberration, or bc my opponent “didn’t try.”
So from the start, tonight’s race was important to me.
Tonight we are proving that the people’s movement in NY isn’t an accident. It‘s a mandate.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 24, 2020
Clearly, that can’t be said any longer. Ocasio-Cortez got more than 70 percent of the votes tallied so far, with less than 20 percent going to Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, her Wall Street-backed challenger.
Many of the races have not yet been called, and in largely Democratic districts, the primary essentially decides who will win the seat in the general election.
A record number of voters requested mail-in ballots in order to avoid crowded, indoor polling places during the coronavirus pandemic. In an added complication, many who requested mailed ballots still had not received them by election day.
Those mail-in ballots will be counted starting on July 1, and final results for most races on the ballot are unlikely before then.
In the meantime, though, progressive, Black and Latinx challengers are in the lead across major races.
In NY-15, NYC council member Ritchie Torres is ahead. He campaigned in a crowded race against Rubén Díaz Sr. and others. Díaz is the father of current Bronx borough president Rubén Díaz Jr., and an open Trump supporter who progressives feared would win the race because of his name recognition in the community.
Thank you to all the volunteers and supporters who helped deliver our message & fight for #NY15. There are thousands of absentee ballots that still must be counted, but together we are making history in the Bronx. pic.twitter.com/nm1888Iqmd
— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) June 24, 2020
Torres, who out-fundraised every other candidate in the race, is now set to be the first openly gay and Afro-Latino member of Congress. Torres is currently the youngest member in the New York City Council, and would be taking over Representative José Serrano’s seat. Serrano is the longest-serving Latino in the House of Representatives, in office since 1990.
BOLD PAC, the fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus released a statement applauding Torres’ lead.
“Tonight, voters in the Bronx rejected the agenda of a Trump sympathizer and instead put their faith in Ritchie, a son of the Bronx and a pragmatic, progressive leader who will bring the fight for New York’s working families to Congress,” the statement said. “His victory is a reflection of BOLD PAC’s commitment to continue expanding the Hispanic Caucus with diverse and strong voices in Congress.”
In NY-16, middle school principal Jamaal Bowman beat out long-time congressman Eliot Engel. Engel, who has held his seat since 1989, was endorsed by establishment politicians such as Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.
Bowman did not take any corporate PAC and lobbyist money, and was endorsed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
I’m a Black man raised by a single mother in a housing project. That story doesn’t usually end in Congress.
But today, that 11-year old boy beaten by police is about to be your Representative.
I can't wait to get to DC and cause problems for those maintaining the status quo. pic.twitter.com/ijaWpkcxvc
— Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) June 24, 2020
Another progressive candidate with a promising lead is Mondaire Jones, a lawyer backed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Jones would also be one of the first Black and openly gay members of Congress.
Samy Nemir-Olivarez, a queer Latinx candidate for District Leader in Brooklyn, noted on Twitter that the election results so far imply a wave of queer, Black and Brown progressives may be ushered into office very soon.
When we started this race, ppl said our district wasn’t ready for a gay candidate. Yesterday, NY elected 2 gay men of color into Congress, first one to State Senate & two for District Leader in BK. It’s ready@MondaireJones@RitchieTorres@JabariBrisport@Julio_PenaBK@Samynemir pic.twitter.com/VKkCqkva1H
— Samy Nemir-Olivares (@Samynemir) June 24, 2020
Ana Lucía Murillo is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. and the 2020 summer correspondent for Latino Rebels. She tweets from @analuciamur.