Opinion

Note to Ocasio-Cortez: Don’t Help Me!

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Joanne Butler Contributor

If I were a Democratic candidate for anything (U.S. Senate to county coroner) and I received a call from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I’d hang up. And I’d hit the big red button on my ‘call killer’ gizmo. Because her endorsement translates into: ‘you lose’.

Real world people would treat her as if she had a contagious disease, but politics-world is different. Ocasio-Cortez’s no-hopers engage in magical thinking. They believe her strategy of endorsing late in the race plus a ration of funding will get them over the line, past other candidates with longer track records in their communities.

It’s a lousy strategy. Perhaps her no-hopers who have yet to lose their elections think they’ll be the exception, and finally, her magic wand finally will work for them.

Compare Ms. Ocasio-Cortez to Republican Congressman David Brat. Like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Brat won his seat in the primary, where his opponent was Eric Cantor, who was the House Majority Leader.

Brat saw an opportunity, as Cantor spent relatively little time in his suburban Richmond, Virginia, district. While Cantor was raising money for other candidates and networking with Wall Street, Brat was working the district. Cantor lost the June 2014 primary and by August 2014, he had a job on Wall Street.

Joe Crowley, chairman of the House Democratic Congress and a lifetime politician from the Bronx, treated his district in the same way Eric Cantor did. Like David Brat, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used Crowley’s neglect to her benefit and beat him in the June 2018 primary.

Besides party differences, another significant contrast between Ocasio-Cortez and Brat is that he is more low-key. He doesn’t believe he has superpowers.

What Ocasio-Cortez has is a great deal of outsized hype, considering her big accomplishment was to beat an incumbent who no longer cared about his district.

It’s an old story. Here’s just one example. In 2012, longtime Indiana Senator Richard Lugar lost in the primary to Richard Mourdock (but Mourdock lost in the general election). After the primary, a Republican pollster noted: “Three-fourths of voters supporting Mourdock said their reasons centered around Lugar’s longevity, age, and lack of residency.”

As the Washington Post put it: “At its heart, Lugar’s defeat was attributable to the fact that he broke the political golden rule: Never lose touch with the people who elected you.”

Truly this is a political golden rule, but Eric Cantor and Joe Crowley broke it.

And Ms. Octavio-Cortez would be wise to abide by it, or, come the 2020 primary, she could find herself on the losing side.

Joanne Butler, graduate of the Kennedy School at Harvard, was a professional staff member (R) at the House Ways and Means Committee and served in President George W. Bush’s administration.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.