Ocasio-Cortez campaigns against Carper

NEWARK — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York took time away from her campaign for the U.S. House to stump Friday for a fellow progressive, Democrat Kerri Evelyn Harris in Delaware.

Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old former bartender, shocked the political establishment in June when she defeated 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley in a congressional primary.

Harris, a political novice trying to unseat three-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Tom Carper in next Thursday’s primary, had traveled to New York earlier this year to help Ocasio-Cortez in her upset bid.

On Friday, Ocasio-Cortez returned the favor, helping drum up support for Harris.

“She had my back and I’m here to have hers, because that’s how the progressive movement really works,” Ocasio-Cortez told a crowd of about 300 at a town-hall style meeting at the University of Delaware. The two candidates also were scheduled to appear at a second town hall Friday evening in Wilmington, a Democratic stronghold that has helped keep the state solidly blue for years.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Harris and Ocasio-Cortez told listeners at the university that if they want change in the political system, they have to get engaged and fight for it, no matter what the odds.

“Right now in this moment we’ve got to choose what side of history we’re going to be on,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We don’t want to tell our grandkids, ‘I didn’t do anything’ because the polling said that he or she may not have won.’”

“We want to tell our grandkids that we fought and we established single-payer health care, that we saved our environment, that we transformed our criminal justice system because it was the right thing to do, and we stood up to do it at a critical time.”

Saying the progressive movement is the only one proposing solutions to the country’s problems, Ocasio-Cortez ticked off a list of issues she and other progressives are fighting for, including Medicare for all, tuition-free college and criminal justice reform.

“At the end of the day, so long as you are fighting for those issues no matter what the odds, you are doing the right thing,” she said.

But Harris, a 38-year-old community activist and former auto body mechanic, faces a steep uphill climb against Carper, 71, a former five-term congressman and two-term governor who has never lost a race in more than four decades in politics.

“The problem is we re-elect people saying they have seniority, saying they have power and influence,” Harris said, without mentioning Carper’s name. “What good is their power if they’re not using it for you, if they’re not using it for your family, for your community?”

Speaking to a college crowd, Harris said the country needs to reprioritize its spending, and that if government can bail out banks, it can eliminate student loan debt that is crushing young people.

“If we want change, we must choose change,” she said. “We have a lot of experience in Congress, and that experience has not gotten us anywhere.”

Ocasio-Cortez said the issues that progressives are fighting for, such as universal health care and tuition-free college, are investments that will create wealth for everyone.

“I’m not going to look into my grandchildren’s eyes and say ‘Yeah, the sea levels are rising, you are choking on this air because we were asking too much, ‘How are we going to pay for it?’” she said. “That is not the question we need to be asking right now. The question is, ‘How do we make it happen? … How are we going to make it happen against all odds?”


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