Ocasio-Cortez overcomes Wall Street foes to win primary

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has won the New York Democratic primary in her race for re-election to the US House of Representatives, dealing a blow to an array of Wall Street titans who poured money into her opponent’s campaign.

Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman and David Solomon of Goldman Sachs were among the finance industry leaders who backed Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s challenger, former CNBC journalist Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.

But Ms Ocasio-Cortez, a leader of the party’s progressive wing, won Tuesday’s primary by more than 50 points, according to the Associated Press. Because her district is overwhelmingly Democratic, Ms Ocasio-Cortez is near certain to win re-election in November’s general election.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez won her seat in 2018 by defeating Joe Crowley, a 10-term congressman and close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Progressives were hoping for similar upsets in primary elections in two neighbouring districts, but the races were too close to call on Wednesday because so many mail-in-ballots had yet to be counted.

Hanging in the balance were the political futures of two of the most powerful New York Democrats on Capitol Hill — Eliot Engel, 73, chair of the House foreign affairs committee, and Carolyn Maloney, 74, chair of the House oversight committee.

In the 16th congressional district, Jamaal Bowman, a former middle school principal, led with 61 per cent of the vote, compared with Mr Engel’s 36 per cent, with 92 per cent of precincts reporting on Wednesday morning, according to the Associated Press.

Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, a progressive group that backed Mr Bowman’s bid, said: “This fight was an opportunity to prove that a black man who survived growing up in poverty and surviving police violence at 11 years old could have political power to transform this country . . . He could be the first candidate being swept into Congress by the movement in the streets right now.”

Mr Engel’s campaign said in a statement that the congressman was “proud of his progressive record” and “looks forward to the final tallies” from his district, which includes part of the New York City borough of the Bronx and suburban Westchester County.

In the 12th congressional district, which includes Manhattan’s Upper East Side and parts of Queens and Brooklyn, Ms Maloney was leading narrowly with 41.5 per cent of the vote, compared with Suraj Patel’s 40 per cent, with all of the precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.

The Maloney campaign said the congresswoman “looks forward to expanding her lead significantly in the final result”.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina and Kentucky, Republican challengers defeated Donald Trump-backed candidates at a time when the US president is struggling to make the case for his re-election come November.

With many Americans disapproving of the president’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and protests over police violence, Mr Trump trails Joe Biden, his Democratic opponent, in national polling, with a new poll on Wednesday from The New York Times showing Mr Biden ahead by 14 points.

In North Carolina on Tuesday, a run-off was held to fill the vacancy created by Mark Meadows, a former member of Congress who is now Mr Trump’s White House chief of staff. The winner was Madison Cawthorn, a 24-year-old real estate investor who will turn 25 — the minimum age for a member of the House — before November’s election. Mr Trump had endorsed his opponent.

In Kentucky, results are still being counted in a closely watched primary to determine which Democrat will face Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, in November.

Amy McGrath, a 45-year-old former Marine fighter pilot, raised more than $40m in her efforts to oust Mr McConnell. But she faced a fresh challenge in recent weeks from Charles Booker, a 35-year-old African-American state legislator.

Despite raising less than $800,000, or around 2 per cent of Ms McGrath’s haul, Mr Booker’s campaign picked up steam during the widespread protests following the killing of George Floyd last month, and the state legislator received high-profile endorsements from Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Ms Ocasio-Cortez, among others.

With just over half of precincts reporting on Wednesday morning, Ms McGrath had 45 per cent of the vote, compared with Mr Booker’s 37 per cent.