Ocasio-Cortez Faces Well-Financed Challenger in June Democratic Primary

CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera on assignment in Cuba. (Creative Commons license.)

Is it time for AOC to make way for MCC in the Battle Royale of Dueling Hyphenated Congresscritters?

CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera filed to run against sitting Democratic Congresscritter and onetime bartender Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez back in February, and will soon report to the Federal Election Commission just how well-heeled her campaign really is. A New York Post story claims that Caruso-Cabrera “will report having $800,00 in cash on hand — minus expenses paid” when she files with the FEC later this month. It’s safe to conclude that with more than two months to go before the primary vote, Caruso-Cabrera is already a million-dollar candidate.

Word broke yesterday that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is reportedly planning to endorse Caruso-Cabrera, probably because they don’t want to be the first with their backs up against the wall after AOC’s glorious people’s revolution. Scott Reed, senior political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, “Michelle is one of the most qualified and competent candidates we have met with this cycle.” He’s pledged to use the Chamber’s considerable networking heft to keep the donations flowing into MCC’s coffer. Caruso-Cabrera presents herself as a moderate, pro-business Democrat in the Clinton (Bill, not Hill) mold.

That’s not to say that Caruso-Cabrera is suddenly a shoo-in to unseat the socialist first-term progressive favorite. As of January 1 of this year, AOC had $2,901,701 cash on hand according to her FEC statement. Ocasio-Cortez had a monster fourth quarter last year, bringing in more than $5.3 million in donations.

Ocasio-Cortez also still enjoys the permanent tailwind of an adoring press. While I was pulling up recent articles about her for this column, I stumbled across Henry Olsen’s masturbatory fan-fic for the Washington Post headlined: “A column from 2025, when President Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes office.”

It features gems like this one:

Ocasio-Cortez easily defeated [incumbent President(!)] Biden in the Democratic primaries as he looked as feeble as his policies. Republicans, meanwhile, put up their own woman of color, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. But she failed to catch on as party orthodoxy prevented her from assuming the mantle of change Americans desperately wanted. Ocasio-Cortez’s extreme youth — she only turned 35, the constitutional minimum age to become president, in October of 2024 — also helped her. This new leader was clearly untainted by discredited old policies she had always loudly opposed.

It’s sick-making, some of the muck I have to wade through to bring you the news. But I’m happy to do it so you don’t have to.

Anyway, Ocasio-Cortez must be having a difficult week. Here comradely “Democratic” Socialist brother-in-arms Bernie Sanders effectively quit his presidential run on Tuesday, and earlier this week AOC herself got raked over the coals for trying “to make coronavirus about ‘environmental racism’ and reparations.” Washington Examiner’s Brad Polumbo noted that “the real problem with Ocasio-Cortez’s racially inflammatory coronavirus rhetoric is that it contributes to the divisive politicization of what ought to be an apolitical, unifying response to a crisis.”

But here’s the question: Are Democratic voters in New York’s 14th District in the social media-enhanced mood for more and more “divisive politicization,” or are they ready for a little more moderation and actual representation?

While AOC has more than proven her fundraising prowess, she has yet to face a non-midterm electorate. In her only primary fight to date, she defeated machine Democrat incumbent Joe Crowley two years ago in a low-turnout midterm vote. One of her first unofficial acts as the 14th’s representative was to scare Amazon out of creating a few thousand good-paying jobs in the district. Ocasio-Cortez might be better at making national headlines than at making good decisions for her local constituents, a valid complaint that Caruso-Cabrera has been addressing in her primary challenge.

I don’t know who wins this one in June, but it’s nice to see some small sign of sanity in the Democrats’ primary process this once.

Correction: Brad Polumbo is with the Washington Examiner, not National Review.