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Ocasio-Cortez backs Primary Opponent Maloney

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In her primary campaign to unseat Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) in a district created by redistricting, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed progressive state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D).

Both Ocasio-Cortez and Biaggi defeated incumbents in their 2018 races, with Biaggi defeating a Democratic state senator who had partnered with Republicans to give them the majority.

Ocasio-Cortez said that she achieved progressive victories through hard work. Now, I know she will continue to fight for working people in Congress.” 

Ocasio-Cortez was inaugurated to Congress after she defeated then-chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a primary contest.

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In endorsing Ocasio-Cortez, Ocasio-Cortez results in a stinging rebuke of Maloney, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s head. As soon as New York’s new congressional map was announced last month, Maloney announced he would run to represent that district. 

Jones announced he would run in a separate district after Maloney was elected to the new district. Maloney avoided a potentially awkward member-on-member primary.

Aside from Maloney’s contributions to the DCCC, Ocasio-Cortez previously asked him to step down if he contested another Democratic incumbent as a primary candidate.

Maloney said in an email to The Hill that she respects Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and has worked with her on many policy matters, including a co-sponsorship of the Green New Deal.

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He said, however, that they would need to agree to disagree on her endorsement. “I am honored to have received endorsements from nearly 40 elected leaders and party committees in NY-17, which shows the election is down to voters here.”

Maloney held a 30-point lead in the race among likely Democratic primary voters in the district, according to a recent poll by Global Strategy Group for the Maloney campaign. 

Respondents heard a balance of positive and negative messages about both candidates, but Maloney continued to lead by 23 points. In contrast, only 41 percent of voters were familiar with Maloney, while 76 percent couldn’t rate Biaggi.

As a result of redistricting in New York, approved by a state court but drawn by a third party, Democrats have been shaken up in the midterms this year. In several races, incumbents are pitted against each other.

It placed Maloney’s residence in the 17th, where he is now running, but Jones’ residence in the 16th, currently represented by Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), another liberal, first-term lawmaker of color.  

The 12th Congressional District encompasses both Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who have served together in Congress for roughly 30 years. Maloney refused to run in a different district, according to Nadler.

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