The Earth shifted a little on June 27, 2018. At least, under the feet of corporate donation receiving Democrats it did.

Joe Crowley raised $2,804,683 dollars for the New York Congressional District 14 primary race he lost against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. To put it plainly, Crowley’s campaign paid $238.47 for each of the 11,761 votes he received in his losing bid. You can take a big fat guess where that $2.8 million came from, or you can find out at Suffice to say, it wasn’t from tens of thousands of $27 donations.



The above stands in stark contrast to the $115,855 that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised. In case you’re wondering, that pencils out to $7.29 for each of the 15,897 votes she earned. It is all the more amazing because she was able to make it onto the ballot by enlisting determined and passionate foot soldiers to obtain the almost 5,000 signatures required, thus saving the costs of filing fees.

What the brief dive into the numbers of votes does not tell is of another type of currency that is far more valuable and far more effective. That currency is people. These passionate people poured their hearts and souls into someone they believed in and this belief became viral. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC as she is commonly identified because many can’t mouth that many syllables that fast, was the lightening in a bottle that made people want to believe they could indeed, have control over their own destiny again. AOC makes you want to believe that your vote matters.

Now, I am about to say something that many will make many roll their eyes: AOC’s victory was completely predictable. If you look at the demographic and income profile of the NY-14th, AOC did in fact look like a representative of that district. People could see her representing them because they see themselves in her. Candidates of the people, by the people, and for the people are PRICELESS.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was and is … authentic.

Of course, because I am writing this, I have to find the dark cloud attached to the even the brightest and shiniest silver lining. 27,658. That is the number of NY-14 residents who voted in this primary. Now, please keep in mind that a typical congressional district is made up of approximately 715,000 constituents. That means that just under 4% of the constituents made the decision of representation for the rest of the 715,000 citizens of the NY-14. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: the people are the power. You need to engage many, many more people to effect the change that you and so many of us envision.

Fortunately, AOC is the one doing the engaging, and we could not have a more powerful advocate during these dark times.


So, how does a race 3,000 miles away in Queens relate to the East Bay?

So glad you asked.


We happen to have a race in California’s Assembly District 15 that mirrors and echoes many of the narratives of the upset victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the NY-14 congressional district. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a volunteer for the Jovanka Beckles campaign.

The contest between Buffy Wicks and Jovanka Beckles will strum many of the same chords that resonated with voters in the New York election. Both Beckles and AOC pledged to run corporate money free campaigns. Both Beckles and AOC are women of color challenging well-moneyed establishment Democratic candidates. Both Beckles and AOC relied heavily on people powered canvassing and get out the vote efforts. Finally, both candidates were endorsed by Democratic Socialists of America(DSA) and were featured prominently in their promotions and literature.



There is an ironic difference in the two races: while a congressional district ultimately represents more people, the AD-15 race will be more costly and more intense because of the race’s protracted nature and what it represents in the ongoing battle of the warring factions of the Democratic party. Make no mistake: what the race for AD-15 lacks in national headlines, it will make up for with intensity.

Expect more candidates like AOC and Jovanka Beckles in the future. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it best when asked in a debate to name a positive quality of her opponent, Joe Crowley, “he’s basically a good guy.” That’s probably true. It’s not the intentions or goodness of those in Democratic leadership that is in question, it’s their effectiveness. The AD-15 race, like so many throughout the country, offers the electorate a clear and stark choice. The stakes are too high, the consequences too real, and the outcome too certain to chose the status quo moneyed interests. The track record of failure and descent of the Democratic party into hopeless irrelevance is undeniable. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jovanka Beckles are offering a path where the votes of the people matter more than the dollars of the donors.

New Yorkers made the winning, hopeful choice in the NY-14.

Will we make the wise choice in California’s AD-15?