Politics

Two Longtime NYC Congressmen Have Young Socialist Challengers Hoping To Mimic AOC

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset victory over Joe Crowley in 2018 is inspiring other primary challengers with similar pedigrees: New York City millennials advocating for democratic socialist policies.

Shaniyat Chowdhury, a 27-year-old Marine veteran, said Tuesday he will officially announce his campaign to oust Democratic New York Rep. Gregory Meeks within the coming days. Isiah James, a 32-year-old Army veteran, filed in January to run against Democratic New York Rep. Yvette Clarke, reported Bklyner.

Both are Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) members, according to City & State, and Chowdhury’s Twitter profile even features a red rose next to his name, a symbol of the DSA. City & State New York profiled Chowdhury on Tuesday as he launches his bid to unseat Meeks, who also supports cornerstone progressive policies. (RELATED: Activist With ALS Who Needs Help From Computer To Speak Testifies At First Medicare For All Hearing)

“We don’t have to wait our turns,” Chowdhury said. “[New York’s 5th Congressional District] has the opportunity to be one of the most progressive seats in the country, but currently it’s being wasted on a corporatist that hasn’t represented our interests in a very, very long time.”

(L-R) Rep. Gwen Moore, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Rep. Yvette Clarke, Rep. Chaka Fattah and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee conduct a news conference during the Congressional Black Caucus' Economic Security Taskforce on TARP/TALF Access Summit in the Longworth House Office Building March 30, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(L-R) Rep. Gwen Moore, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Rep. Yvette Clarke, Rep. Chaka Fattah and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee conduct a news conference during the Congressional Black Caucus’ Economic Security Taskforce on TARP/TALF Access Summit in the Longworth House Office Building March 30, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

City & State highlighted Chowdhury’s many similarities to Ocasio-Cortez. He’s a bartender, a minority (his parents immigrated from Bangladesh) and even was a staffer on the congresswoman’s 2018 campaign.

James reacted to the City & State profile of Chowdhury on Twitter Tuesday night.

“Run tell that! Progressives are coming, full steam ahead!” he wrote in response to a link to the story.

James and Chowdhury are receiving media attention after Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise primary win, but James might have an even better shot after Clarke narrowly survived a primary challenge with a thin margin of roughly 1,075 votes in 2018, according to The New York Post.

Chowdhury will run on progressive platforms like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All while rejecting corporate PAC contributions, he said. Meeks has supported both of those proposals.

Meeks has never had a “serious primary challenge,” according to City & State. His district is 47 percent black and covers southeast Queens and part of Nassau County.

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