A Tree Falls in Queens (June 27)

Update 282: A Tree Falls in Queens: House Leader Crowley’s Loss Shocks Party

In a surprise on the order of then-House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor’s primary defeat in 2014, Rep. Joseph Crowley, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus was defeated by a first-time candidate, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in yesterday’s New York District 14 primary. Ocasio-Cortez is 28 and a Bernie Sanders organizer. Much more on yesterday’s voting below.

Meanwhile, Justice Kennedy’s announcement that he is vacating his SCOTUS seat raises the stakes of the upcoming confirmation vote and of course, November’s midterm elections, especially for those concerned about a Roe majority on the Court.




New York

NY-14: Ocasio-Cortez vs. Anthony Pappas

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 78/Trump 20
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 81/Romney 18
  • 2016 House: Crowley (D) 83/Spotorono (R) 17
  • Cook PVI: D+29

In NY-14, 28 year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former Bernie Sanders volunteer, pulled off the upset of the primary season by beating House Democratic Caucus leader Joe Crowley. Ocasio-Cortez used an unabashedly progressive platform to overcome a ten-to-one fundraising disadvantage and claim a 15 point victory over the ten-term incumbent. Her campaign explicitly focused on fighting against systemic risk in the financial sector, the creation of a public banking option at the United States Postal Service, a federal jobs guarantee, and clean campaign finance reforms.

Ocasio-Cortez is all but guaranteed victory in November in this D+29 district. Her opponent, economics professor Anthony Pappas, stands little chance of gaining traction in the overwhelmingly blue district. While Crowley’s defeat is in part due to local political dynamics and redistricting, it is the latest and loudest demonstration that the establishment center is dangerous territory in this election cycle.

NY-19: Delgado vs. Rep. Faso

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 52/Clinton 44
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 52/Romney 46
  • 2016 House: Faso (R) 54/Teachout (D) 46
  • Cook PVI: R+2

Attorney Anthony Delgado emerged from a crowded field of seven to win the Democratic primary in NY-19. Delgado was seen as a progressive candidate, beating out the “Cuomo candidate,” who finished in 2nd place, 22 to 18 percent. His victory is another example of progressive energy overcoming the establishment. He will face incumbent John Faso, a savvy but vulnerable Republican who faced a tough race against Zephyr Teachout in 2016.

Delgado is running on a progressive economic platform. He wants to ensure job creation in his district, protect small businesses, and increase the minimum wage. Aside from that, he calls for increased education and infrastructure investment, undoing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and increasing rural economic development spending.

NY-24: Balter vs. Rep. Katko

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 49/Trump 45
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 57/Romney 41
  • 2016 House Results: Katko (R) 61/Deacon (D) 39
  • Cook PVI: D+3

A progressive woman also won in NY-24, where Syracuse University professor Dana Balter handily beat the DCCC-backed Juanita Perez Williams, 62 to 37 percent. Balter will now face incumbent Republican Rep. John Katko in a race that is seen as one of the Democrats’ best chances to flip a seat in the Empire State.

As was the case elsewhere in New York state, local issues played an important role in NY-24. Local party officials were angered by the DCCC’s late foray into the race in support of the more conservative Perez Williams. Balter campaigned on an economic platform that focused on guaranteeing a living wage, rewriting the tax code to increase progressivity, and investing in public education.

NY-02: Shirley vs. Rep. King

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 53/Clinton 44
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 52/Romney 47
  • 2016 House: King (R) 62/Gregory (D) 38
  • Cook PVI: R+3

First time candidate Liuba Gretchen Shirley won the Democratic nomination for New York’s Second Congressional District, which covers Wantagh, Seaford, and Levittown. The conservative district is represented by well-known, long-time Republican incumbent Peter King. Shirley’s campaign is a symbol of the struggle for campaign finance reform in a system that bars low and middle income women from running for office. She made headlines when she won a fight with the Federal Election Commission over the use use campaign funds to pay for childcare. While she has a distant chance of defeating Rep. King, this district’s race will be interesting.

NY-22: Brindisi vs Rep. Tenney

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 55/Clinton 39
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 49/Obama 49
  • 2016 House: Tenney (R) 47/Myers (D) 41
  • Cook PVI: R+6

NY-22 is a pivot district – it went for Obama in 2012 and 2008, but for Trump in 2016. Rep. Claudia Tenney, a one-term Republican incumbent, will face off against Democrat Anthony Brindisi in November. Brindisi, a state assemblyman, ran in an uncontested primary. Democrats see this race as a promising pick up opportunity due to Rep. Tenney’s support for the tax bill and ACA repeal. Brindisi has long roots in the district and campaigned as a political outsider — he has said he would not vote for Rep. Pelosi as House speaker and has been at odds with Gov. Cuomo at different points in his political career. Brindisi is running on a platform of protecting healthcare and improving the local economy.

NY-11: Rose vs. Rep. Donovan

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 54/Clinton 44
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 52/Romney 47
  • 2016 House: Donovan (R) 62/Reichard (D) 37
  • Cook PVI: R+3

Max Rose won a decisive victory in yesterday’s Democratic primary in NY-11, securing over 50 percent of the vote in a six-way race. Rose is a combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan and has many years of experience working for a healthcare nonprofit serving underprivileged New Yorkers. He will now face the winner of yesterday’s GOP primary, the Trump-endorsed Rep. Dan Donovan who triumphed over convicted felon and ex-Rep. Michael Grimm.

As with other New York districts, local issues will play a huge role in deciding who will come out on top in November. Rose has criticized Donavan’s lack of leadership on the opioid crisis gripping the Staten Island community. He is also a strong supporter of innovative infrastructure projects in the district. NY-11 is the most conservative district in The Big Apple, but Rose still has a fighting chance to flip the district come November.

NY-12: Rep. Maloney Feels Some Heat

In New York’s 12th, progressive insurgent Suraj Patel performed remarkably well against longtime incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Patel’s 41 to 59 percent defeat might seem decisive, but the result is significant given that Rep. Maloney fended off her 2016 primary challenger by an 80 point margin. Patel’s strong showing suggests that Rep. Maloney might be becoming too conservative for a rapidly changing district that includes large swaths of Brooklyn.


UT-04: McAdams vs. Rep. Love

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 39/Clinton 32
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 67/Obama 30
  • 2016 House: Love (R) 54/Owens (D) 41
  • Cook PVI: R+13

In UT-04, Salt Lake City’s Mayor Ben McAdams will run a moderate campaign in hopes of defeating two time incumbent Rep. Mia Love. Neither candidate had to worry about a primary challenger, but November’s contest could be signal for an impending blue wave. Love, a moderate Republican member with some tea-party leanings, will be a difficult member to defeat in an increasingly conservative Utah. A member of the House Financial Services Committee, she was the primary sponsor of the Volcker Rule Relief provision in S.2155.

McAdams is running on a platform that includes fixing the Affordable Care Act and criticized Love and Republicans for their vote on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act due to its deficit impact. In line with his concern about the federal debt, McAdams also supports the balanced budget amendment to the constitution.


CO-06 Crow vs. Rep. Coffman

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 50/Trump 41
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 52/Romney 47
  • 2016 House: Coffman (R) 51/Carroll (D) 43
  • Cook PVI: D+2

Attorney Jason Crow resoundingly defeated his primary opponent to win the Democratic nomination in a toss-up, east-of-Denver district that includes Aurora. While the district is expected to swing blue this November, Crow will not have an easy fight. There are an equal number of Democrats, Republicans, and Independent registrations in the district and incumbent Republican Mike Coffman has won in “blue wave” years before.

Crow plans to eliminate the influence of dark money in politics, reject corporate PAC money, and overturn Citizens United. His economic plans include increasing the minimum wage, increasing the overtime salary cutoff, improving collective bargaining rights, and ensuring paid leave. He has also pledged to increase federal grants and student loan programs for higher education and protect post-financial crisis Wall Street reform rules.

Gubernatorial News in MD

Former NAACP head Ben Jealous overcame Rushern Baker III in a decisive 39 to 29 percent victory on Tuesday night to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination for Maryland. Jealous ran a progressive campaign that was endorsed by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris. Running on strikingly similar campaign messages as Stacey Abrams’ successful Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign in Georgia, Jealous campaigned strongly on single-payer healthcare, increasing the minimum wage, and making state colleges tuition-free. Jealous will now faces a tough fight against Larry Hogan, a GOP moderate with a 69 percent approval rating among Maryland voters.


From the beginning of the primary season, the results have moved districts from toss-up to lean-D according to the Cook Political Report. The number of such districts can be expressed as a fraction of the total seats needed for the Democrats to secure a majority in the US House in November.

Not including yesterday’s primaries, we estimate that Democrats can confidently claim seven flips, or 7 of the 23 seats needed to win back the House.

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