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Young challengers go 1-for-2 vs. NY Democratic stalwarts

June 27, 2018
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This May 6, 2018 photo provided by the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Campaign shows candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, right, during a Bengali community outreach in New York. Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old political novice running on a low budget and an unabashedly liberal platform, upset longtime U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley on Tuesday in the Democratic congressional primary in New York. (Corey Torpie/Courtesy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Campaign via AP)
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This May 6, 2018 photo provided by the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Campaign shows candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, right, during a Bengali community outreach in New York. Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old political novice running on a low budget and an unabashedly liberal platform, upset longtime U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley on Tuesday in the Democratic congressional primary in New York. (Corey Torpie/Courtesy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Campaign via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Democrats’ youthful insurgency went 1-for-2 in upsetting the party’s New York stalwarts in primary elections on Tuesday, knocking out U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in stunning fashion while giving U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke quite a scare.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old who’s never held elected office, ousted Crowley from a seat he’s held since 1999 in a district that includes parts of the Bronx and Queens.

Crowley had been considered a candidate to become the next House speaker if Democrats win the majority. Ocasio-Cortez, born in the Bronx, worked as an organizer on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

“The community is ready for a movement of economic and social justice. That is what we tried to deliver,” said Ocasio-Cortez, whose candidacy attracted only modest media attention.

Outspent 18-1, Ocasio-Cortez told The Associated Press she didn’t have enough money to do polling in the race, but felt in her gut that her message had a chance to connect.

“I live in this community. I organized in this community. I felt the absence of the incumbent. I knew he didn’t have a strong presence,” said Ocasio-Cortez, who faces Republican Anthony Pappas in the general election.

Clarke, who has represented Brooklyn since 2007, narrowly survived a challenge from Adem Bunkeddeko, the 30-year-old son of Ugandan war refugees. Clarke, 53, tallied about 1,000 votes more than Bunkeddeko, who had been buoyed by a New York Times endorsement.

The unexpectedly competitive Democratic races overshadowed a fierce Republican battle on Staten Island between an incumbent congressman and the felon he replaced.

U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, New York City’s only Republican congressman, credited President Donald Trump for helping him hold off a challenge from Michael Grimm, who appeared on the verge of a political comeback 3½ years after resigning to serve prison time for tax fraud.

Donovan, New York City’s only Republican congressman, told supporters that Trump had “stuck his neck out” with his endorsement late last month and that voters should return the favor by thwarting a Democratic majority and efforts to impeach the president.

“We cannot let that happen,” Donovan said.

Trump congratulated Donovan in a tweet about an hour after the polls closed, calling it a “tremendous win” and saying that the incumbent had “showed great courage in a tough race!”

A victory would have been a remarkable comeback for Grimm, who resigned his seat and spent more than seven months in a federal prison after pleading guilty in 2014 to cheating the government out of income and payroll taxes and knowingly hiring immigrants in the country without legal authorization to work at his Manhattan restaurant.

Donovan will face Max Rose, a decorated Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan who emerged from a six-way Democratic primary in the district covering Staten Island and part of Brooklyn.

Rose, 31, has a master’s degree in philosophy and public policy from the London School of Economics. He hasn’t previously held elected office.

In another closely watched race, Antonio Delgado defeated six other Democrats for the party’s nomination to challenge first-term Republican U.S. Rep. John Faso in the 19th Congressional District in the Hudson Valley and Catskills regions.

Delgado, a 41-year-old lawyer, has been a Rhodes scholar, hip-hop artist and music producer. He released the album “Painfully Free” in 2006 under the name AD the Voice.

Delgado raised and spent more money than his opponents, who included an Iraq war veteran, a former CIA officer and a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

He aired a TV commercial featuring a woman with a brain tumor who said that by voting to repeal Obamacare, Faso reneged on a promise that he wouldn’t take away her health care.

Faso’s battleground district went for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016.

In another crowded field, the majority leader in the state Assembly won a four-way primary to become the Democratic candidate to replace the late U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter.

Joseph Morelle, 61, of Irondequoit, won the primary in New York’s 25th Congressional District in the Rochester area. He will face neurosurgeon James Maxwell, who was unopposed in the Republican primary.

Morelle, an assemblyman since 1991, defeated former TV anchor Rachel Barnhart, Rochester city councilman Adam McFadden and real estate agent Robin Wilt in the primary.

The seat has been vacant since Slaughter died in March at age 88. She had represented the Rochester area since 1987.

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This story corrects the spelling of Clarke in one reference.

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