Ocasio-Cortez gets new 2020 challenger: a Republican immigrant from Jamaica

Republican Scherie Murray is launching a campaign Wednesday for the New York congressional seat held by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Courtesy of Murray campaign)

Scherie Murray, a New York businesswoman who immigrated from Jamaica as a child and is active in state Republican politics, is launching a campaign Wednesday for the congressional seat held by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Fox News has learned.

In a phone interview, Murray, 38, confirmed her intention to run for the New York congressional seat as a Republican.

“There is a crisis in Queens, and it’s called AOC,” Murray told Fox News. “And instead of focusing on us, she’s focusing on being famous. Mainly rolling back progress and authoring the job-killing Green New Deal and killing the Amazon New York deal.”

Murray, who was born in Jamaica and moved to the United States when she was 9, is officially launching her campaign Wednesday with an introductory video that takes sharp jabs at the 29-year-old Ocasio-Cortez.

'There is a crisis in Queens, and it’s called AOC.'

— Scherie Murray

“Your representative in Washington chooses self-promotion over service, conflict over constituents, resistance over assistance," Murray said in the video. "Queens and the Bronx needs someone who will create jobs instead of turning them away."

Asked about Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of Democratic socialism, Murray said, “I think it’s far, far to the left and it is not connecting with everyday Americans.”

As for "Medicare-for-all," which Ocasio-Cortez has embraced, the Republican said: “Medicare-for-all, I think a lot of people are happy with their current health insurance.” And on the Green New Deal, the left-wing proposal to address climate change pushed by Ocasio-Ortez, she said: “We know that it certainly will kill jobs.”

Murray joins four other Republicans who have filed to run for the seat: former police officer John Cummings, medical journalist Ruth Papazian, construction contractor Miguel Hernandez and entrepreneur Antoine Tucker.

No Democrats have yet announced a primary challenge to Ocasio-Cortez, though there's been speculation that establishment Democrats could rally behind a primary challenger. Ocasio-Cortez shocked the political world in 2018 by defeating longtime Rep. Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary.

Whichever Republican candidate emerges from the primary field will face a steep uphill climb in the overwhelmingly Democratic district. But Murray and others are looking to paint Ocasio-Cortez as more of a celebrity than a lawmaker, while stressing their ability to work across party lines.

Murray's new campaign video, which doesn’t mention President Trump or the Republican Party, portrays Murray as a bridge-builder. She is a former state committeewoman of the New York State Republican Party.

Asked during the interview if she considers herself a Trump supporter, she said “yes.” She said she is in the process of talking with national Republicans about her campaign, including South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, a prominent black Republican in Congress.

She expressed disgust over the recent spat between Trump and Ocasio-Cortez and her allies. Trump has taken heat for telling Ocasio-Cortez and other minority progressives to "go back" to where they came from – provoking accusations from Democrats that Trump's comments are racist.

“I think it’s disgusting, to be quite honest,” Murray said of the controversy, without specifying which part of it disgusts her. “I think we are missing the point of why we’re elected to public office: to legislate on policy, to deliver results to those kitchen table issues that are affecting everyday Americans.”

Murray later clarified her thoughts on the back-and-forth, saying of Trump's tweet, "Is that how I would have worded it? No. Do I think the president is a racist? No." She added, "But I want to get back to the core of why we’re even talking about this – there is a crisis at our border."

Murray, who grew up in Southeast Queens and worked for the city’s Jamaica Bus Depot as a teenager, founded a television production and advertising company called The Esemel Group in 2004. She said her business generated employment for minorities in New York City. She said she no longer works for the company and is now a full-time mother.

The GOP primary will take place in June 2020.

Winning a general election in New York’s 14th congressional district would be a long shot for any Republican: In 2018, Ocasio-Cortez’s GOP opponent, Anthony Pappas, won just 14 percent of the vote.

But Murray still insists a Republican could win – even in a Democratic-controlled district – because of dissatisfaction with Ocasio-Cortez.

“A Republican can win the district,” she said. “There is an absolute path to victory when you look at a general election campaign.”

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Trump says congresswomen he insulted should apologize to him

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President Trump apparently called on four newly elected congresswomen of color to apologize to him after he told them “go back” to their “broken and crime infested” countries. The comments were widely condemned as racist — and three of the four were born in the U.S.

“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said,” Trump tweeted Monday.

“So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!”

Trump’s “foul language” jab was apparently referring to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who once vowed that Congress would “impeach the motherf***er.” Trump lashed out again against “foul language” in a following tweet.

“If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out,” he said.

His comments came after Democrats, including presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the inflammatory tweets as racist.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” he continued. “Then come back and show us how it is done.”

The nativist rhetoric, “go back to your country,” is often used in racist and xenophobic attacks, including a recent hate crime in New York City last week in which a Hispanic female construction worker was attacked and told, “You’re here taking jobs from Americans.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., one of the “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” Trump was referring to in his Sunday morning Twitter thread, hit back at the president, reminding him that she was born in the United States. (She and Trump were both born in the Bronx.)

“You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us,” said Ocasio-Cortez, who has the same birthplace as Trump’s father, “You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.” 

Omar, the first-ever Somali-American in Congress and first hijab-wearing Muslim member of the House, has faced fierce opposition over her controversial statements about Israel, also responded to Trump Sunday. Omar wrote: “You are stoking white nationalism [because] you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda.”

Trump had interjected an ongoing feud between House progressives and the Democratic establishment over a border spending bill when he called out the four freshmen women. Last week, after Ocasio-Cortez had accused the leader of the Democratic Party of persistently “singling out” women of color, Trump defended her. “I'll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi that you know better than I do: She is not a racist,” he said.

Pelosi, however, rejected Trump’s “xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation,” saying “When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again.”

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Ocasio-Cortez reminds Trump, 'I come from ... the United States'

Image result for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez +Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota,

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lashed out at President Trump, who tweeted that she and three other congresswomen of color should “go back” to their “broken and crime infested” countries, pointing out that she was born in the United States.

“Mr. President, the country I ‘come from,’ & the country we all swear to, is the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Sunday.

The freshman representative from New York, along with Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, belong to the group of progressive Democratic congresswomen that Trump referred to in a Sunday Twitter thread, saying, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” Trump tweeted.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” his thread continued. “Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

The women were all born in the United States, except for Omar, who became a refugee at age 10 when a brutal civil war devastated Somalia, a predominantly Muslim country in East Africa. Five years after entering the U.S., Omar was eligible for citizenship and in 2000 became a citizen at 19.

“You are angry because you don’t believe in an America where I represent New York 14, where the good people of Minnesota elected @IlhanMN, where @RashidaTlaib fights for Michigan families, where @AyannaPressley champions little girls in Boston,” said Ocasio-Cortez, who has the same birthplace as Trump’s father. “You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.”

She continued: “But you know what’s the rub of it all, Mr. President? On top of not accepting an America that elected us, you cannot accept that we don’t fear you, either. You can’t accept that we will call your bluff & offer a positive vision for this country. And that’s what makes you seethe.”

Omar, the first-ever Somali-American in Congress and the first hijab-wearing Muslim member of the House, also responded to Trump, tweeting, “Mr. President, As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States. Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen.”

“You are stoking white nationalism [because] you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda,” she added.

Rep. Tlaib called for Trump’s impeachment in her response, and Pressley denounced the president’s tweets as racist.

“THIS is what racism looks like,” the Massachusetts lawmaker tweeted Sunday. “WE are what democracy looks like. And we’re not going anywhere. Except back to DC to fight for the families you marginalize and vilify everyday.”

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was accused by Ocasio-Cortez of “singling out” women of color in an ongoing feud between House progressives and the Democratic establishment, the party leader also rejected Trump’s “xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation.”

Pelosi defended the women in her camp, saying “When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again.”

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