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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has all but secured a second term representing her deep-blue House seat after winning her Democratic primary by a significant margin on Tuesday.
The final numbers from Tuesday's primary won't be known for at least several days given this year's large number of absentee ballots. But, thus far, Ocasio-Cortez won nearly 73% of the vote, according to Decision Desk HQ.
While Ocasio-Cortez's reelection was expected, she faced an expensive and contentious primary race.
The 30-year-old incumbent faced her toughest challenge from the former CNBC correspondent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former Republican who accused Ocasio-Cortez of being out of touch with her district.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the prominent New York progressive, has all but secured her second term in Congress, beating three Democratic primary opponents in her deep-blue district by a significant margin on Tuesday.
The final numbers from Tuesday's primary won't be known for at least several days, given this year's large number of absentee ballots. But, thus far, Ocasio-Cortez won nearly 73% of the vote, according to Decision Desk HQ.
While Ocasio-Cortez's reelection was expected, the race is a test of the enthusiasm for her leadership in New York's 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens. The district, which is about half Latino and 75% people of color, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in recent months.
The outcome of the expensive and contentious primary tracked with polling in May and June by Ocasio-Cortez's campaign that found 79% of likely Democratic primary voters had a favorable view of the congresswoman and 72% thought she'd done a good job in office.
"Voters in New York want change — well, AOC is change," Celinda Lake, a veteran Democratic pollster hired by the campaign to conduct the surveys, told Business Insider, using Ocasio-Cortez's initials. "Voters in New York are not in the mood to fire her. She's been doing a good job for them."
Despite Ocasio-Cortez's strong polling, she spent heavily on her reelection bid, dropping $6 million on her race after raising over $10.5 million as of June 3 — the second-most of any House Democrat.
Ocasio-Cortez's team argued that the congresswoman spent heavily this cycle both because she faced a well-funded opposition and because she refused to take her popularity for granted.
"We run like we're scared, and that's how you don't lose is that you never take anything for granted," Lauren Hitt, the congresswoman's communications director, told Business Insider.
The congresswoman tweeted on Tuesday night that her strong win gave her a "mandate" and erased any doubt that her 2018 win was "an aberration."
—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 24, 2020
The 30-year-old congresswoman, who quickly became a household name after her stunning primary victory over the longtime incumbent Joe Crowley in 2018, faced her toughest challenge from the former CNBC correspondent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.
Caruso-Cabrera, a former Republican who wrote a 2010 book calling for small government and fiscal conservatism, positioned herself as a pro-business centrist and attracted significant campaign donations from Wall Street executives.
While Caruso-Cabrera pitched herself as a jobs-focused conservative Democrat, she also sought to portray Ocasio-Cortez as ineffective and divisive, accusing the congresswoman of masquerading as a Bronx native, grandstanding to build her public profile, and sheltering in her "luxury" Washington apartment while she recovered from an illness during the pandemic.
"She's from Westchester, don't forget. She didn't grow up in the Bronx like she claims," Caruso-Cabrera, who raised at least $2 million for her primary bid, told Business Insider in an April interview. "And everybody in the Bronx knows it."
Ocasio-Cortez, who worked as a bartender to support her financially struggling family, was born in the Bronx and lived there until her family moved north to Yorktown in Westchester County when she was 5 years old. She moved back to the Parkchester neighborhood of the Bronx after college.
Insider first reported in April that Caruso-Cabrera, a New Hampshire native who lived in Manhattan for 20 years before moving to Ocasio-Cortez's district late last year, previously lived in the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle in Manhattan for several years.
Ocasio-Cortez hit back at her top opponent in a recent attack ad, in which she accused Caruso-Cabrera of being a Democrat in name only and a stranger to her district.
Forgoing some forms of traditional campaigning and canvassing, Ocasio-Cortez and her opponents focused on coronavirus relief efforts, delivering meals, masks, and other supplies to needy residents. The congresswoman has also made headlines recently for supporting Black Lives Matter protesters and criticizing Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Police Department over their handling of the city's anti-racism protests.
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