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In an interview with "Fox and Friends," Wednesday, Cummings explained that while he had been encouraged by his students to run for some time, he had long considered it impossible to beat then-incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley.
"The present congresswoman, Ocasio-Cortez, obviously ruined that excuse for me," he joked.
In 2018, Ocasio-Cortez’s GOP opponent, Anthony Pappas, won just 14 percent of the vote. Cummings said he understands that winning as a Republican in the overwhelmingly blue district will be an “uphill battle,” but he is confident he can pull it off.
“I think this transcends party, I think people are really interested in local representation and that’s something that we’ve seriously lacked in that district for a long time," he said.
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As a retired high school government teacher of 21 years, Cummings said education will be a large focus of his campaign. As for his opinion on socialism, Cummings said he is not a fan.
“I despise socialism, I despise everything about it. For many years, the Democrats have flirted with socialism ... and now they are almost knocking each other over to see who can grab the socialist ring first.”
“When you’re doing so in a climate where the economy is really chugging along, unemployment is low…everything seems to be moving in the right direction, and now you’re going to flip the script? I think it’s outrageous and I think people know that at the local level.”
Later in the interview, Cummings touted his pitch for the people of Queens and the Bronx.
“My message is I am you, I’ve lived and worked in that district my entire life. I shop where the people shop, I live where they live, I eat where they eat – I know where the good restaurants are, I sit on the Cross Bronx like everybody else, and that message resonates," he said.
Cummings joins four other Republicans who have filed to run for the seat: Businesswoman Scherie Murray, medical journalist Ruth Papazian, construction contractor Miguel Hernandez and entrepreneur Antoine Tucker. The GOP primary will take place in June 2020.
In a Fox News exclusive interview, Murray - a Jamaican immigrant and businesswoman - called Ocasio-Cortez a "crisis" for the district.
"Instead of focusing on us, she’s focusing on being famous. Mainly rolling back progress and authoring the job-killing Green New Deal and killing the Amazon New York deal," she said.