City Council Member Fernando Cabrera is launching a primary challenge against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The Bronx Democrat and pastor filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for the congressional seat, which spans parts of the Bronx and Queens, and is formally kicking off his campaign today.
Story Continued Below
While a slew of lesser-known Republicans have already launched campaigns against the progressive firebrand, Cabrera becomes the most prominent local Democrat to take her on.
“Only a Democrat is going to be able to defeat her, and it’s going to be a moderate Democrat,” Cabrera told POLITICO. “She’s a no-show in the district. She hasn’t brought about anything except division within the party.”
He plans to target Ocasio-Cortez for her democratic socialist views, and opposes her “Green New Deal” proposal as well as “Medicare for All.”
“Socialism doesn’t work. I don’t want it for my children, for my grandchildren,” he said.
The Council member said he was first inspired to jump into the race after hearing Ocasio-Cortez rail against Amazon’s planned headquarters in Queens, a plan that was scuttled amid a flood of opposition.
“It was staggering to me,” he said of her attacks on the $3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies the project was set to receive — most of which any company could have received on an as-of-right basis. “We have somebody who literally dismantled the possibility of us having 25,000 jobs, and she has yet to bring any jobs into the district.”
Cabrera has courted controversy in the past for his views on gay rights, which are sure to be a flash point in the primary battle. A video surfaced five years ago of him in Uganda praising the policies of the country’s government, which imposed draconian penalties on homosexuality. He also appeared on the radio show of the Family Research Council, which has been labeled a hate group.
Cabrera said he has voted for every piece of legislation pushed by the LGBT caucus during his tenure on the Council.
“There are people who want to demonize me because that puts a cloud over my accomplishments,” he said. “But my track record … I’ve been supportive every step of the way.”
Like several of Ocasio-Cortez’s Republican challengers, Cabrera lives outside the congressional district.
The Council member has close ties to the Bronx Democratic party, and hopes to court their support.
“I can’t see the party ever endorsing her, because her and the Justice Democrats are running people against everybody in the Democratic party,” he said.
“She doesn’t play well with local officials,” he added. “They’ll all tell you exactly the same thing: We can’t work with her, she’s impossible.”
A spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez declined to comment.