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Alexadria Ocasio-Cortez in Congress
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Unexpected challengers.
MIND THE BRIDGE

AOC’s surprise new Republican challenger was an AOC fan

Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Geopolitics reporter

Rising progressive star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has an official challenger. Scherie Murray, a Republican businesswoman originally from Jamaica, announced her candidacy for New York’s 14th congressional district in Queens and the Bronx today.

Murray herself was at one point charmed by Ocasio-Cortez, as evidenced by her congratulatory tweet after the Democratic newcomer’s primary victory over longtime incumbent Joe Crowley.

The candidate, who announced her run in a video, now says Ocasio-Cortez is self-serving, too focused on her own success and visibility, and too antagonistic. Instead, Murray says, she is all about connection and unity, a concept the video drives home with a simple metaphor.

“Bridges. They fill our skyline. Rising above our city their arches are more than stone and steel. They connect us, they help us move forward and connect from place to place,” says Murray in the opening lines of the video, titled “Bridges.” “That’s why we build bridges: to be connected to one another.”

In her Twitter bio, Murray describes herself as “Mother, Community Leader, Bridge Builder.”

The need to “build bridges, not walls” was a leitmotif of Hillary Clinton’s campaign against Donald Trump, and in a Democratic stronghold her strategy may hit some of the right notes. Only 22% of voters in Queens and 10% in the Bronx chose Donald Trump in 2016. A Caribbean black woman and an immigrant, Murray has lived in New York since she she was nine. She embodies the quintessential resident of Queens, the US’s most diverse large county.

Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, who stood out with a clear progressive message, Murray doesn’t yet appear to have much of a platform, or a plan. In her video, Murray touts her experience in building bridges between communities and political parties, but she doesn’t provide any details. She also leaves out whether she has any specific policy proposals or how her politics fit in the Republican universe. (Murray’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.) 

Her message so far is almost exclusively focused on what she says are her opponent’s shortcomings. Her video doesn’t delve into those either.

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