Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old socialist who made New York’s affordable housing crisis a focal point of her Democratic primary campaign for the House of Representatives, defeated Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens by a stunning 15 point margin on Tuesday.
During the 2018 election cycle, Crowley, who represents New York’s 14th Congressional District and has long headed the Queens County Democratic machine, raised more money than he ever had before, bringing in $3.4 million, according to election data analyzed by the nonprofit group Open Secrets. The most generous industry was real estate, which accounted for at least $380,000, or more than 10 percent of the total raised.
Other major donors perhaps not represented in that total are also connected to real estate. Executives from Blackstone Group, the investment firm that is one of New York City’s largest landlords, gave $35,000, making it one of Crowley’s biggest corporate donors. This included donations from Jonathan Gray, the company’s current COO and former head of real estate, who gave $5,400. And Votesane PAC, a political action committee that counts many realtors as contributors, was another of Crowley’s largest donors this cycle, with $76,500 donated, records show.
Crowley’s most prominent real estate donors over the last 18 months included Related Companies executives, members of the Rudin real estate family, Rob Speyer, Jed Walentas, William Mack, Joseph Simone, Frederick Elghanayan, Scott Rechler, John Catsimatidis, Jeff Gural, landlord SL Green Realty and Washington lobbying group the Real Estate Roundtable.
Ocasio-Cortez campaigned against the influence of real estate money in New York City politics. “It’s time we stand up to the luxury developer lobby. Every official is too scared to do it – except me,” she tweeted in April. As of June 6, she had raised $301,000 for her campaign from 180 donors, federal elections records show. About a quarter of that came from Democratic candidate-supporting fundraising platform ActBlue.