AOC endorses Queens candidate, testing her political influence on New Yorkers

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has thrown her support behind District Attorney candidate Tiffany Caban who, like her, was perceived as an insurgent progressive challenging establishment candidates.

Caban, a public defender, would represent Queens and, like Ocasio-Cortez, received the endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise victory opened the doors for a new, Democratic Socialist vision of electoral politics," Shasha Weinstein, who belonged to the groups's electoral organizing committee for Queens, told the New York Post.

"It shows people are no longer content with out-of-touch politicians that ignore the working class," she said. Caban also endorsed several positions backed by the DSA, including ending cash bail and fighting mass incarceration.

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Ocasio-Cortez, on Wednesday, touted Caban's record as a public defender. "Electing a public defender to a DA’s position with her platform could be transformative, & the organizers busting their butts on the ground have earned recognition," she said.

Her endorsement seemed to reflect a pattern of more progressive candidates rising to challenge the Democratic establishment. Ocasio-Cortez, who was just elected in 2018, has already received a frenzy of media attention and reportedly had enough power to provoke major 2020 candidates to seek her endorsement.

The election could serve as an initial test of how much power she actually had and whether the immense amount of media attention she received was an accurate indicator of her importance in the party.

It could also gauge just how far the supposed "progressive wave" would last beyond the 2018 elections. That movement within the party caught particular attention when Netflix released a documentary in April that starred her and other progressive candidates.

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When her endorsement caught media attention, she pushed back on the idea that she was somehow testing her political influence by endorsing Caban.

"Perhaps an unpopular opinion: I don’t believe endorsements are a particular 'test of influence,'" she tweeted. "I think it’s insulting to both the candidate and organizers working tirelessly to imply that."

The freshman congresswoman, whose endorsement prominent 2020 candidates vied to obtain, added that "endorsements don't determine campaigns - organizers do."

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As proof, she cited her own campaign in which she beat the powerful incumbent and former Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y. in 2018.

"When I ran last year, everyone and their cousin endorsed my opponent," she said.

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She was responding to a tweet from J. David Goodman, who has written for the Times and tweeted out the publication's article on her.

"After he lost, did people imply that the Gov's endorsement wasn't powerful anymore? That virtually every single union in NYC no longer had influence?" Ocasio-Cortez asked. "No! It was about the candidates and the race. It always is," she added.