Campaigns & Elections

Ocasio-Cortez is still claiming Crowley will sabotage her election

The congressman refuses to vacate the Working Families Party line, despite the party's request

Rep. Joe Crowley

Rep. Joe Crowley Alex Brandon/AP/Shutterstock

Is relitigating Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory against Rep. Joe Crowley going to replace the 2016 Democratic presidential primary as the years-long source of intraparty recriminations? Even though the progressive insurgent candidate won this time and her vanquished opponent immediately endorsed her, the bad blood continues.

A Twitter spat between Ocasio-Cortez and Crowley highlighted the first-time candidate’s tendency to accuse her opponent of electoral chicanery.

On Thursday morning, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted an article from The New York Times which reported that Crowley will remain on the ballot on the Working Families Party line in November, despite requests from WFP State Director Bill Lipton that he vacate the line. While that fact is accurate, her Ocasio-Cortez interprets this as a Crowley actively running against her, a charge the congressman denies.

Crowley responded on his campaign Twitter page, disputing Ocasio-Cortez’s claims.

Crowley also pointed out in subsequent tweets that removing himself from the ballot would be complicated. The only way to vacate a ballot line is to move out of New York, die, or accept a nomination for state Supreme Court at a judicial nominating convention post-primary. (Ocasio-Cortez would argue that Crowley already doesn’t live in their district, noting that his children attend school in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.) Crowley said that since none of those options would occur, he would stay on the ballot.

It is common for candidates to vacate a minor-party ballot line after losing in the primary for their party. The WFP often installs “placeholder” candidates for endorsements where there is no consensus, with the idea that the placeholder will vacate the line after the Democratic primary and the nominee will become the new WFP nominee. This occurred in the 2013 mayoral election, and, more recently, the WFP installed a placeholder candidate in place of endorsing one of the candidates for attorney general this year. So it’s bit mysterious why Crowley won’t do the same, but he says he won’t campaign against Ocasio-Cortez.

This is not the first time Ocasio-Cortez has made unsubstantiated claims about Crowley making dishonest attempts to undermine her. In May, Ocasio-Cortez told City & State in an interview that that unnamed sources warned her to install poll watchers on Election Day to prevent tampering with election machines. When asked for details, she said that “breadcrumbs” of evidence was shown by the appointment of poll coordinators by “the local party apparatus.” Election coordinators are appointed by the county board of elections and have equal representation of both parties, although county party chairs recommend a list of names.

On Election Day, Ocasio-Cortez posted another accusation against Crowley’s campaign team with no evidence. On June 26, Election Day, she accused the Crowley campaign of deliberately tampering with her posters.

The Crowley campaign flatly denied it.When asked for evidence of tampering with posters, or if anyone was willing to speak about the issue, Corbin Trent, a spokesperson for the Ocasio-Cortez campaign, said “I’ll keep you in the loop.” He did not offer further information.

Ocasio-Cortez is the Democratic nominee, which functionally makes her the next congresswoman for New York’s 14th Congressional District, given the overwhelming Democratic advantage in that district.