On Tuesday night, it was every bit as much a victory for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., as it was for Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., in the Democratic primary election for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.
Indeed, Ocasio-Cortez’s active endorsement saved the campaign of incumbent Markey, who was facing a formidable primary challenge from Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., a congressman who is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy.
Markey started the election off well-behind Kennedy but he ended up winning a clear and decisive victory Tuesday night in large part due to Ocasio-Cortez’s active support.
The Kennedy legacy also undeniably helped Markey position himself as an underdog and a progressive champion, much like Ocasio-Cortez herself.
Comparatively, the weight of his family’s legacy cemented Kennedy’s position in the political establishment, especially given that he received endorsements from establishment figures like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Ultimately though, it is hard not to credit Ocasio-Cortez singularly for handing the Kennedy family their first defeat ever in a Massachusetts election going back close to 75 years.
Make no mistake, Markey’s entire campaign message and communication centered on Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement—in particular, a compelling ad she made for the vulnerable incumbent.
Ocasio-Cortez’s direct-to-camera ad endorsing Markey, which was released about a month ago, clearly contributed to Markey’s resounding 11-point victory in Tuesday’s election.
Given Ocasio-Cortez’s clear popularity, influence, and fundraising support, Schumer is justifiably worried that Ocasio-Cortez could run against him in the primary in 2022, potentially positioning herself as the Democrats’ real leader whether or not Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is elected this November.
In the spot, Ocasio-Cortez touts Markey as a progressive firebrand who was an original sponsor of “Medicare-for-all” and co-author of the Green New Deal.
“When it comes to progressive leadership, it’s not your age that counts, it’s the age of your ideas,” Ocasio-Cortez says in the ad, referencing Markey’s age of 74.
Comparatively, Kennedy, who tried to position himself as a new generation of leadership, is just half Markey’s age at 39.
Further, Ocasio-Cortez’s influence also extended to other primary races. In Massachusetts’ 1st congressional district, Ocasio-Cortez brought a clearly flawed candidate, Holyoke, Mass. Mayor Alex Morse, a 31-year old progressive who faced claims of sexual misconduct throughout the race, against veteran Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., who at age 71 is one of the most powerful Democrats in the House.
Though Neal pulled out a clear victory in the end, Morse garnered more than 40 percent of the vote, which is in many ways a demonstration of Ocasio-Cortez’s — and ideological progressivism’s influence — within the Democratic party.
In my view, taken together, the results of Tuesday’s primaries suggest that progressive freshman Ocasio-Cortez may be poised to become the future leader of the Democratic party.
Indeed, this outcome sends a message to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that, while he may be the party’s next leader if the Democrats win the Senate in November, the party’s clear ideological leader is Ocasio-Cortez.
And indeed, given Ocasio-Cortez’s clear popularity, influence, and fundraising support, Schumer is justifiably worried that Ocasio-Cortez could run against him in the primary in 2022, potentially positioning herself as the Democrats’ real leader whether or not Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is elected this November.
Furthermore, with regard to the presidential election, we can expect that Markey’s victory—which is part of a string of progressive victories throughout this primary season—will make Biden more vulnerable to attacks by the Trump campaign.
The Trump campaign has already been pushing the message that Biden is a puppet of the far-left, and while many of these attacks are ham-handed and not credible, Markey’s victory lends credence to Trump’s argument that the Democratic party as a whole has moved far outside of the mainstream.
“See, even a Kennedy isn’t safe in the new Radical Left Democrat Party,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “Taxes up big, no 2A. Biden has completely lost control. Pelosi strongly backed the loser!”
Ultimately, the insurgency of the progressive movement within the Democratic party is undeniable. And moreover, the most powerful and influential Democrat in America today is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—make no mistake about it.