U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) pauses while speaking as Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) listen during a news conference

The Squad Cleaned Up in Their Primary Elections This Summer

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In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley won their congressional seats running on progressive platforms against more establishment Democrats. Omar ran to fill a vacant seat but AOC, Tlaib, and Pressley primaried sitting Dems and won. And after cleaning up in a round of contentious primary elections this summer, The Squad has proven that their 2018 wins were anything but a fluke.

 

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A lot of money went into trying to keep these women to a single term.

In June, AOC won her primary against Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a Reagan-loving self-described “centrist” whose campaign was largely funded by Wall Street titans. Ocasio-Cortez won with nearly 73% of the vote.

Last week, Tlaib won her primary with two-thirds of the vote. And in the most contentious race of them all (Pressley appears to be running unopposed in her race next month), Ilhan Omar won her race yesterday with 57% of the vote.

Like AOC’s challenger, Omar’s opponent, attorney Antone Melton-Meaux, was well-funded by moderate to right-wing donors. All of these women have been attacked for being too progressive. They’ve been accused of focusing too much on national issues (which sure sounds like code for the familiar refrain of “too ambitious”). They are seen as a threat not just to Republicans but to anyone who benefits from wealth inequality and any other form of social injustice. And those people have a lot of resources to throw behind a candidate who will serve them.

Maybe that’s why the narrative going into these races (and even after them) is that these women were in real danger of losing their seats and that they were lucky to win.

In reality, as Rep. Tlaib said in a statement following her win, “Voters sent a clear message that they’re done waiting for transformative change, that they want an unapologetic fighter who will take on the status quo and win.”

In addition to the four existing squad members, this summer’s primary season added two new progressive voices likely to win their general elections in November: Missouri’s Cori Bush and New York’s Jamaal Bowman.

(image: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.