By: Daniel Marans & Kevin Robillard – huffingtonpost.com – July 4, 2018
“Who here has heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?” he asked.
Had they ever. More than 600 miles away from Ocasio-Cortez’s district, the crowd of several hundred Michiganders roared with excitement.
“She showed us that when we are honest about our message, when we are truthful about where our money comes from, when we are willing to speak clearly about the policies we believe in, and we are willing to stand up to the establishment, we win elections,” El-Sayed continued.
El-Sayed, a 33-year-old former Detroit health commissioner and first-time candidate, is one of a lucky handful of left-wing contenders basking in the power of Ocasio-Cortez’s sudden stardom. Earlier in the day, Ocasio-Cortez had used her massive Twitter platform to endorse El-Sayed. He has since picked up an additional 2,500 Twitter followers and is awash in national press inquiries.
Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old former Bernie Sanders organizer who just a few short weeks ago was scolding establishment Democrats on Twitter for ignoring her campaign, now has 600,000 followers hanging on every 280-character missive ― far more than the typical rank-and-file member of Congress.
And those same establishment Democrats are now knocking on her door. A little over a week since her upset of Joe Crowley, the Democratic Party boss of Queens County, Ocasio-Cortez finds herself as an unlikely kingmaker.
She’s used her newfound power to boost the political fortunes of a slew of candidates ― most but not all of whom are backed by the Justice Democrats, a group that played an integral role in Ocasio-Cortez’s bid and is dedicated to unseating corporate Democrats.
I believe a politics of working hard for economic, social, and racial justice can succeed anywhere in America.
Michigan is blessed to have @AbdulElSayed as a candidate for Governor, and I am proud to support him.https://abdulformichigan.com/
10:48 AM – Jul 2, 2018
But there are also signs establishment Democrats are hoping her newfound fame can boost the party’s general election fortunes as well ― EMILY’s List and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have both reached out to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign. (Gillibrand congratulated her on the phone the day after the big win.)
Democratic strategists believe an email signed by Ocasio-Cortez would be an instant moneymaker, and that her endorsements and campaign stops could help drive progressives to the polls in November.
“She represents the future of our party,” Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez said Wednesday morning on “The Bill Press Show.”
In addition to El-Sayed, Ocasio-Cortez has given the nod to nine congressional candidates: Delaware Senate challenger Kerri Harris; Kaniela Ing in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District; Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts’ 7th; Brent Welder in Kansas’ 3rd; Cori Bush in Missouri’s 1st; Chardo Richardson in Florida’s 7th; Sarah Smith in Washington state’s 9th; and Linsey Fagan in Texas’ 26th.
She’s also sent a fundraising email for incumbent Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), the only member of Congress to endorse her bid, and used her list to plug a trio of insurgent New York candidates ― gubernatorial challenger Cynthia Nixon; state attorney general hopeful Zephyr Teachout; and state Senate contender Julia Salazar.
The Ocasio-Cortez bump, these campaigns say, is noticeable almost immediately.
“From the second she tweeted my name, everything changed.”
– Cori Bush, Democratic candidate, Missouri’s 1st Congressional District
Brent Welder, a labor attorney and former Sanders campaign organizer, touted Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement in an email fundraiser and tripled his weekly fundraising haul from about $17,000 to well over $56,000.
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