A mystery Republican donor said to be worth more than $200 million is set to fund GOP challengers in the long-shot hopes of unseating star Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it has been reported.
The head of the Republican Party in the Bronx says that the donor is ready and willing to contribute to any candidate who takes on Ocasio-Cortez when she is up for re-election next year.
‘There’s definitely national energy and money on this race,’ Bronx Republican Chairman Mike Rendino told the New York Post. Rendino said that the donor in question is ‘worth over $200 million, plus [has] connections to raise money in Manhattan.’
Since she upset Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in the primary, Ocasio-Cortez, who won more than 78 per cent of the vote in the district last November, has become a national figure.
The celebrity status of the 29-year-old Bronx native has also energised Republican opposition toward her, which could impact the 2020 race.
While Republicans have a slim chance of defeating Ocasio-Cortez in the deep blue 14th congressional district, one candidate has already declared her intention to run while two others are seriously considering jumping into the race.
Ruth Papazian, a Republican from the Bronx, says she plans to run against AOC, whom she has slammed as a ‘Bolshevik’ who has brought ‘socialism’ to the Bronx and Queens.
‘She completely ignores the people in this district,’ Papazian, a medical journalist, told the Post.
‘I’ve lived here my whole life. I know the heart and soul of this community. The people here have scratched and clawed their way into the middle class, and they’re not about to be impoverished with the high taxes it will take to make the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.’
Ocasio-Cortez has supported a Green New Deal to combat climate change and Medicare for All, which would provide government-run health insurance to Americans.
The Post reported that while Papazian has publicly committed to running against Ocasio-Cortez, she has yet to establish a fundraising operation. She reportedly met with Corey Lewandowski, President Trump’s former campaign manager.
‘He was encouraging and offered to be helpful when Ruth has demonstrated that she can raise enough money for a serious race,’ a source told The Post.
Papazian, the daughter of immigrants from Egypt, blames Ocasio-Cortez for leading the charge against a plan by Amazon to build a campus in Queens.
Ocasio-Cortez was among progressive New York Democrats who had objected to the $2.8 billion in incentives from the city and New York state to woo Amazon to build a new headquarters in Long Island City.
Amazon, which had promised that the new headquarters would generate at least 25,000 jobs, abruptly cancelled the plan in February after vocal opposition from progressives and community leaders.
The Post identified two other Republicans who say they are considering a run against Ocasio-Cortez. Rich Valdes, 40, is a producer for conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin.
In February, Valdes launched an exploratory committee. He said he has met with Republicans in Queens and the Bronx to gauge interest in his candidacy.
‘They’re really, really kind of discouraged at the fact that she was elected on this platform of representing the district because she ran against Crowley, positing him as being no-show, and she’d turned out to be very much the same way a no-show person,’ Valdes said.
John Cummings, a former NYPD officer who teaches U.S. government at a Bronx high school, is also considering a run. ‘I know it’s a difficult road because this is a heavily Democratic district,’ said Cummings.
He repeated the others’ criticism of Ocasio-Cortez, saying that she doesn’t pay enough attention to her district. ‘She’s only interested in a national platform, and we need local representation,’ Cummings said.
Corbin Trent, Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesperson, disagreed. ‘I couldn’t disagree more with people who are suggesting that the congresswoman isn’t present enough in the district,’ Trent said.
‘She’s done town halls, community board meetings, been available for office hours, she’s sat with activists and organisers and had a very strong presence in the district.’
Three months after being sworn in, the congresswoman has a positive 52-33 per cent favorability rating among voters of her district, according to a Siena College poll released last week.
If elections were held today, Ocasio-Cortez would get 48 per cent of the vote compared to 39 per cent for her opponent. Among Democrats, 61 per cent would prefer Ocasio-Cortez while the other 39 per cent would vote for someone else, according to the poll.
‘The reason she has the support of the people in the district is they realise the work she’s doing at a national level is tying back to the district–Medicare for All, the Green New deal, all these priorities,’ Trent said.