NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tried to hide behind a building a non-profit was buying with government funds. But people recognized him anyway and slowly started walking around him, queuing up to be photographed with him.
The representative of New York ended his visit, did a quick interview with a Bengali television channel and was allowed to take several photographs with his supporters.
For most legislators, this type of attendance is regular in their districts, a chance to connect with their constituents and remind them of the impact their work has had in their communities, like the $2 million Ocasio-Cortez helped raise. Receive an outfit from the queens. For Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most prominent progressive figures in American politics, however, these presentations have a special meaning.
Ocasio-Cortez rose to national fame four years ago when he defeated one of the most influential leaders of the Democratic establishment, saying that his opponent was more interested in his political ambitions than the activists he represented. Today Ocasio-Cortez is seeking a third term in Washington and must be mindful of the damage it could do to her celebrity, avoiding any appearance that she is distancing herself from her voters.
“There’s always concern about the possibility of that assumption being made,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview. “I never had control over the fact that this event started from the moment I was elected. In any case, so it’s important that I stay in touch with my community.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s interest and the sense that she can solve any problem is evident in every visit to her district.
A March town hall meeting in the Bronx drew the likes of 21-year-old Daron Jones, who lined up to be photographed with Ocasio-Cortez. He doesn’t live in his district, not even New York, but traveled an hour from Hoboken, New Jersey, to attend the program after watching “Knock Down the House,” a Netflix documentary about the 2018 Ocasio-Cortez campaign. , in which he snubbed New York veteran Joe Crowley from his seat in the House.
“I knew he was a great man,” Jones said. “I’m glad to see that he is a normal person, just trying to help the community.”
Many people, especially young people, picked up their phones to try to take pictures of Ocasio-Cortez, as a slideshow about various projects and initiatives unfolded.
Nancy Johnson, who lives in the neighborhood, attended the event to see if legislators could weigh in on the controversy in her building about lift service outages and other complaints. Ocasio-Cortez told her she was aware of the problem, but her condo’s board of directors was a private entity and could only advise residents on the options ahead.
“I’m very impressed with everything he does,” Johnson said, although he was “a little disappointed that he couldn’t help us.”
The great hopes that Ocasio-Cortez has created at age 32 are a reminder that fame can be a double-edged sword.
He has 13 million followers on Twitter alone, and one of his posts can generate interest that politicians with more experience can’t even dream of.
He has raised vast amounts of money, mostly from small donations, which he distributes to candidates who share his progressive ideas. According to official records, his Political Action Committee on Leadership has given $207,500 to other campaign committees since early 2021.
But his efforts to promote other candidates or causes have had mixed results. Many of his chosen ones were defeated in Democratic elections by more moderate candidates, supported by partisan machinery, which he supported in the election for mayor of New York won by Eric Adams.
Relations between the two are strained and they fight over a range of issues from the city budget to Adams’ phrase “low-skilled workers”.
In September, Ocasio-Cortez was criticized for attending a grand display at the Metropolitan Museum in New York with “Tax the Rich” written on the back. Some called him a hypocrite for attending a special event full of rich people.
Ocasio-Cortez is now facing a crossroads. Democrats are expected to lose their majority in the House of Representatives in November’s elections, making them less likely to make an impact. He is often mentioned as a potential candidate for the Senate and even the presidency. But she doesn’t plan to climb any higher for now and has denied speculation she may seek the seat of Democrat Chuck Schumer, who presides over the Senate.
New York voters are somewhat liberal, but the rest of the state is centrist, so it will be difficult for Ocasio-Cortez to win elections for higher positions.
“It’s only popular with leftists,” said New York Democratic strategist John Renish. “He’s on the left of most voters in New York State.”
Ocasio-Cortez said he is unclear about his next move.
“It’s something I get asked a lot and I try not to be elusive. But the truth is I don’t know,” he said. “I’m going to try to assess the scenario and see how I can contribute something.”
“On a personal level, I’ve come a long way beyond what I imagined,” he said. “So I don’t have any big ambitions.”