It seems odd that Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a primary challenger in 2020 — much less a score of them. Then again, it would have seemed odd that the man who formerly held AOC’s seat — Joe Crowley — had a primary challenger back in 2018, and look how that turned out.
To be fair, Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t exactly have the same chance of losing that Crowley did, especially considering she’s unlikely to be caught by surprise. There’s also the fact that she faces a whole panoply of challengers who’ll likely split the vote, something that’ll make it difficult for any of her opponents to gain traction.
However, former CNBC correspondent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera has emerged as the most serious of the AOC challengers, and she’s wondering why the first-term congresswoman was absent from her district for part of the coronavirus crisis.
During a virtual debate Monday, Caruso-Cabrera accused AOC of being “MIA” from New York’s 14th Congressional District as the coronavirus crisis raged.
“At the height of the crisis, she stayed in her Washington, D.C., apartment with a Whole Foods in the lobby and didn’t come home even though Congress wasn’t in session,” Caruso-Cabrera said.
“She did that for a whole week. Why on earth would you do that when there’s a crisis going on here and you’re the representative?”
Caruso-Cabrera went on to say that she was in the district helping out residents, including handing out meals — even though she’s not the elected representative.
“You stayed away in your apartment. AOC, you’re always MIA,” she said.
This led to a contentious back-and-forth, as the New York Post reported. Ocasio-Cortez even hit back at Caruso-Cabrera for living in a Trump building at one point and touted her own deep roots in the district.
“This is where my uncle is. There is where my brother is. This is where my family is,” she said. AOC also mentioned she’d intervened on behalf of immigrant children embroiled in a kerfuffle with Immigration and Customs Enforcement at LaGuardia Airport.
“While it’s disappointing to see Ms. Caruso-Cabrera fixated on personal attacks, and for some strange reason, obsessed with the six days in March that I wasn’t feeling well, and had to stay in my apartment,” AOC said, “I do think it’s quite funny that she goes on and on about the fact that … I spend time doing my job in Washington and coming home to the Bronx when she lived in a $15,000-a-month Trump Tower apartment until six months ago.
“This woman probably couldn’t even find Sunnyside [Queens] on a map until she decided to challenge me for the sake of challenging me,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “She doesn’t care about the Bronx, she doesn’t care about Queens. She cares about running for running.
“No one’s ever seen this person before,” AOC said.
“Who are you? Like, where is your family from? Where have you lived? No one has seen you in this community before, and while I know you have multi-millionaires that finance your campaign, and you’re financed by the same real estate developers and big banks that will profit from the corruption in Washington, and adding one more notch to their belt, I don’t think it’s important for us to do that. I don’t think it’s OK for us to do that.”
And when Caruso-Cabrera pointed out that AOC’s mother lived in Florida — a well-known fact — that also set her off.
“You can come after me all you want. Leave my mom out of it. My mother is a widow,” AOC said.
“My mother is a school secretary who makes an hourly wage that’s laid off right now. You don’t know her life. You don’t know what she’s been through. So please leave my mom out of it. It’s really wrong.”
Of course, there’s one interesting bit in AOC’s rant that may not necessarily be factual, at least not anymore: “No one’s ever seen this person before.”
Technically speaking, if you’re a political type and you didn’t know about Caruso-Cabrera before this, you’ve certainly heard about her now.
And by the way, it’s not just Caruso-Cabrera challenging AOC for the seat, either. According to the U.K. Guardian, no less than 13 people are vying to beat AOC, both on the Republican and Democratic sides.
How many of them have a chance — if any — is anyone’s guess, but the reason she has so many opponents is that she’s a lightning rod less concerned about her district than she is about national exposure.
There are plenty of things wrong with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez just from the policy side of things. She could be a Milton Friedman acolyte, however, and the fact that she decided to stay back in Washington while her constituents were dealing with COVID-19 would still be inexcusable. Still, the likelihood she gets knocked off either in the primary or in the general election is slim.
Then again, so was the chance she would end up in Washington in the first place. One unlikely turn deserves another.