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The new guard also includes Torres, 32, a City Council member, and Jones, 33, an attorney — who will make history as they replace retiring incumbents Jose Serrano and Nita Lowey, both in office for more than 30 years.

“The Bronx’s struggles have been my struggles. Whether it’s growing up in public housing, clawing to make ends meet, or as someone who struggles with depression, this borough is my only priority in Congress,” said Torres, who is of Afro-Puerto Rican descent and will also be the first openly gay Latino member of Congress.

While not fully aligned with the left flank of the local party, Torres defeated Republican Patrick Delices on Tuesday after besting a field of a dozen Democrats — including City Council Member Rubén Díaz Sr., who has a long history of anti-gay rhetoric and on Tuesday revealed he voted for Donald Trump. Torres also took out a candidate to his left, Samelys Lopez, who was backed by Ocasio-Cortez and the Democratic Socialists of America.

Like Torres, who was raised at a Bronx NYCHA development, Jones has discussed growing up poor as the child of a single mother.

“No one ever pulled me aside in the Democratic party or in office and said you’re going to be the next member of Congress,” he said at a post-election press conference. “No one offered to mentor me.”

Ocasio-Cortez, for her part, cruised to reelection despite a challenge from Republican John Cummings that drew millions in contributions from around the country.

On the state level, a slate of newly-elected Assembly members on the left, many of them community organizers and tenant activists, are hoping to ramp up pressure on their fellow Democrats who have long dominated the chamber.

“It’s absolutely going to shake things up in a serious way,” said Zohran Mamdani, a socialist housing counselor who defeated Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas in Astoria, Queens.

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A top priority for the expanded insurgent faction will be raising taxes on the rich — something many Democrats have been pushing for in the face of a massive revenue shortfall driven by the coronavirus pandemic, but which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has resisted.

“We made it clear that we were unabashed socialists,” Mamdani told POLITICO. “We were voted in for an explicitly socialist agenda.”

Jessica González-Rojas won a Jackson Heights Assembly seat after defeating Assemblyman Michael DenDekker in the primary — becoming the first person of color to represent a district that is 60 percent Latino and 88 percent nonwhite.

“We tend to be younger, people of color, much more progressive,” she said of this year’s victors. “It reflects a rejection of the status quo, machine-style politics that has reigned in Queens for eternity.”

Phara Souffrant Forrest, a practicing nurse and tenant activist, faced more of a general election fight than most because the incumbent she defeated, Walter Mosley, opted to campaign on the Working Families Party line — despite being disavowed by the WFP after his primary loss. But Forrest won by a three-to-one margin in the Crown Heights district.

Emily Gallagher scored perhaps the biggest primary upset, defeating incumbent Joe Lentol in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. She’ll take over an Assembly seat Lentol’s family has held for three generations.

The new class will also include Marcela Mitaynes, who defeated Assemblyman Felix Ortiz in Sunset Park, and Jenifer Rajkumar, who beat Assemblyman Michael Miller in Queens.

Anna Gronewold contributed to this report.


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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s sister dies from Covid as city passes 1,000 deaths

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The statement came as the mayor declared Wednesday a day of remembrance for the more than 500,000 Americans and 1,000 D.C. residents who had died from the disease. The city announced that it had passed 1,000 deaths on Wednesday.

Bowser ordered flags to fly at half-staff and encouraged houses of worship to honor those who died in the pandemic on Wednesday evening.

“These beautiful souls who passed were grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins, neighbors, classmates, colleagues, friends and loved ones,” Bowser said in a statement announcing the day of remembrance. “This tragic milestone is a reminder that this pandemic has forever changed families and communities.”

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Mercia Bowser had previously worked for Catholic Charities and the D.C. Office on Aging, focusing her work on children, the elderly and those with behavioral disorders, the mayor said in her statement.


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A possible Tanden replacement privately touts her own Senate support

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Privately, too, O’Leary has reiterated her belief that the White House could and should still muster the votes needed for Tanden’s confirmation—noting that Tanden is qualified for the job and that her friends and allies should come to her side and not back down from defending her.

It’s a message that synced with administration officials who have refused to retreat from the nomination despite mounting evidence it’s going down.

But, at the same time, O’Leary has not shied away from touting her own qualification for the Biden administration’s top budget job should that no longer be the case. In conversations with numerous Democratic associates since her name began appearing in news stories as a possible fallback option, O’Leary has portrayed herself as a skilled policy architect and less partisan alternative, according to three Democrats familiar with the exchanges. O’Leary has gone as far as telling them that she could be confirmed by the Senate, two of the sources told POLITICO.

Reached by phone Wednesday, O’Leary restated her support for Tanden.

“Neera Tanden is exceptionally well qualified and should be confirmed for this position,” O’Leary said. “I have worked with her for years and years, and I can’t imagine a better advocate for President Biden to get his budget through Congress and help manage the policies of this administration. I am 1,000 percent behind her.”

One friend who spoke with O’Leary said the feeling they got from their conversation was that she was not campaigning for the OMB post. But the timing of O’Leary’s private comments raised eyebrows for others given her stated commitment to Tanden’s Senate confirmation battle and their history together. The two, at one point in time, were considered part of an exceedingly small “brain trust” for Hillary Clinton that included Heather Boushey, who now is on the Biden White House’s Council of Economic Advisers.

O’Leary’s private conversations in recent days also lend credence to a dynamic the White House itself has refused to publicly acknowledge: that Tanden’s chances of confirmation are increasingly dim and that machinations are underway to be her replacement.

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Several alternatives have emerged with competing constituencies in their corners. House Democrats are making the case for Shalanda Young, Biden’s deputy director nominee at OMB, whom they know from her time as staff director of the Appropriations Committee. Support for Shalanda on the Hill is so strong that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and lieutenants, including Rep. Jim Clyburn, were on board before Biden named Tanden. Progressives in the party are coalescing behind Gene Sperling, a former National Economic Council director.

O’Leary has a close relationship with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, who she would likely need the backing of to secure the OMB nomination if one opens. But she faces headwinds from her tenure with Newsom, a Democrat whose stewardship of the state amid the coronavirus crisis has been so uneven that opponents are closing in on the signatures to qualify a recall effort.

While O’Leary has loyal allies in California, including current and former Newsom aides who praise her policy command and record of accomplishments with Newsom, she confounded other advisers who argued that she struggled to get up to speed on the inner workings of Sacramento and its complex power dynamics.

She also co-chaired the state’s now-defunct Covid business task force with billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer that ultimately was more for optics than actually addressing the issues at hand, with some high-profile defections at the end including Bob Iger.

The possible recall campaign, which comes against the backdrop of shuttered schools and irate business owners who blame their struggles on the state’s see-sawing coronavirus restrictions, could form the basis for critics trying to thwart an O’Leary Senate confirmation.


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Dominion Voting Systems takes out ad on conservative radio

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Dominion appears to have taken out similar ads touting itself as a “proud American company” on The Hayride, a right-wing Louisiana politics blog. Representatives for Dominion did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the ads were part of a broader public relations push or were being run elsewhere.

Dominion is one of the contractors seeking to fulfill Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s request to replace 10,000 decades-old voting machines, according to The Associated Press, and the state deal is estimated to be worth as much as $100 million. Dominion has furnished voting equipment for Louisiana since 2011.

But the former president and numerous prominent Republicans launched unsubstantiated attacks against the company in the run-up to last year’s White House race, alleging that it manipulated votes in favor of then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

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Some high-ranking GOP officials sought to distance themselves from those conspiratorial claims ahead of last month’s Georgia Senate elections, worried that Trump’s rhetoric would dissuade Republican voters from casting their ballots. The pair of runoff races ultimately flipped control of the chamber to Democrats.

Meanwhile, Dominion is embarking on a string of litigation against Trump allies who promoted the baseless theories about rigged voting machines. The company has filed defamation lawsuits against Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for $1.3 billion in damages each.




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