As the COVID-19 crisis continues to ravage communities—in particular communities of color—and protests over the killing of George Floyd have spilled out across the country, there has been a palpable shift in the political winds. Discontent with the status quo was laid bare as Bowman and Booker surged. While Bowman’s win may now seem inevitable, however, Ganapathy stressed that people shouldn’t lose perspective on progressive momentum. “I feel like the expectations are a little out of whack,” he told me. “A middle school principal with no prior political experience defeating a 20-year incumbent—that is an AOC-level upset.”
It’s not just two races, either. Elsewhere in New York, the race between Carolyn Maloney, the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, and Suraj Patel, a veteran of the Obama administration, will hinge upon absentee ballots. Mondaire Jones, a favorite of the activist left, picked up more than double any other candidate in the crowded primary to replace Nita Lowey in New York’s 17th district. And Ritchie Torres is on track to win a highly contested Bronx congressional seat. (If elected, Jones and Torres would make history as the first openly gay, Black men in Congress.) And arguably, the fact that New York has emerged as ground zero for this progressive groundswell is telling in itself. While it is standard for party leadership to endorse and protect incumbent Democrats, the rise of progressives could be a troubling portent for Pelosi and Schumer.