Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) is at the center of Tuesday’s most high-profile battle between the party’s left and a Democratic incumbent — one that’s ending with plenty of vitriol. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the democratic socialist giving Crowley his first challenge in 14 years, began the day by accusing Crowley of election law violations.
In a Tuesday morning tweet, Ocasio-Cortez encouraged supporters to tear down Crowley’s signs if they were spotted less than 100 feet from a polling place — any closer, and they were violating the law. In her mentions, supporters shared reports of Crowley’s electioneering, and photos of his signs in the trash.
Hours later, Ocasio-Cortez claimed that Crowley’s get-out-the-vote team was taking her campaign’s posters and putting them on trees, “trying to ratchet us into $10k worth of fines.”
Crowley spokeswoman Lauren French denied that the congressman’s campaign volunteers were doing any of this — but the two camps have been trading blows about the election’s fairness for weeks. Last month, the challenger told City & State NY that “unnamed sources warned her to install poll watchers on Election Day to prevent tampering with election machines.”
Crowley’s campaign called that “Trump-esque.” In an interview with The Washington Post last week, Ocasio-Cortez clarified that she was not worried about the integrity of the count but about the Queens Democratic Party — led by Crowley — making last-minute moves of polling sites.
“Voting in NY is so bad, and there’s always this air of plausible deniability,” she said. “But the city board of elections literally admitted to guilt, in court, after the city opened an investigation into that. They admitted guilt six months ago in court.”
That was a reference to a city election foul-up that had become legendary on the left — the decision by the board of elections to remove more than 100,000 voters from the rolls before the 2016 presidential primary. But state and local Democratic parties had not been involved with the decision.
“I know that Crowley wants to make it seem like some Trumpian fake news thing, said Ocasio-Cortez, citing a report on voting problems in the state.
“Last-minute poll site changes are heavily concentrated in communities of color,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “I don’t think that they stuff ballot boxes, but it’s a fact that poll monitors are politically appointed. By who? The party county chairs. Who’s the party county chair? My opponent.”
Asked about those comments, French said that Ocasio-Cortez was advancing “Trump-esque claims designed to undermine faith and trust in our electoral system.” Asked about today’s claims of election chicanery, French said the challenger had gone too far.
“The Crowley campaign has several hundred volunteers knocking on ten of thousands doors, so we’re far too busy talking to voters to pay attention to posters or Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s conspiracy theories,” said French. “She is once again trying to undermine faith in our electoral process, which is not only wrong but highly irresponsible.”