There has been much excitement in conservative circles since the latest challenger to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) threw her hat in the ring. She’s a woman of color and an immigrant – and a Republican to boot. At first glance, Scherie Murray seems the perfect nemesis for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, but the excitement fades a tad once you look into her history. So just how conservative is this lady who hopes to be the first Republican to win that district in the 21st century? Not as much as you might hope – but how conservative must she be to represent an improvement from the notorious A-O-C?
Murray has a history of running unsuccessful campaigns against establishment Democrats in overwhelmingly blue districts. She lost her 2013 Council race to Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton). More recently, she failed to replace disgraced Democrat Assemblyman William Scarborough, who resigned in 2015 after pleading guilty to submitting at least $40,000 in false travel expenses for days he didn’t actually travel.
That was in New York’s 29th Assembly District, which hasn’t seen a Republican win since LBJ’s presidency. Now she’s gunning for A-O-C’s seat in the 14th Congressional District. The 14th had a pair of Republicans – a father and daughter, who served back-to-back terms – in the 1980s and 90s, but Molinari the daughter was elected to finish out her father’s term, who was redistricted in from the 17th. Prior to that, the last Republican to hold the office was in the 1920s. Of the 38 representatives from this district since the creation of the Republican Party, all but seven have been Democrats.
So does Murray stand a chance of defeating the incumbent Ocasio-Cortez in 2020? Given what is known of her political history, she might, as she could draw middle-of-the-road voters and even some card carrying Democrats who simply didn’t sign up for the A-O-C brand.
Murray’s issues of interest have been gun violence, inadequate housing, comprehensive immigration reform, rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure (subway and roads), and diversity in the education system. She has been stingy with the details of what she plans or how she intends to carry out those plans once elected, but these ideas sound an awful lot like the talking points of Democrats fishing for more regulation and tax spending. The most conservative thing about her, save her more recent claims to be pro-school choice, seems to be the fact that she wants the current representative out – but even that is a new development.
“I was hopeful when AOC won,” Murray tweeted. “She took on a Democratic political machine & won. But nothing has changed since. Why? Bc she’s only been focused on fame & politics of division & hate. We deserve & expected better. That’s why I’m running.”
But why would a Republican be hopeful after the election of a socialist? If anything had changed, it wouldn’t have been for the better! And we know she was excited. After A-O-C won in 2018, Murray tweeted: “Congratulations Alexandria. #Queens is headed in a new direction and It’s time for new leadership. #Yes” with a link to a CNN article that explicitly named her “a 28-year-old Democratic Socialist” in the title.
And if that isn’t suspicious enough, she admitted to voting for Obama – twice. One could be forgiven, perhaps, for falling for the change message of the charismatic guy who joked off accusations of being an illegal alien by claiming to be the last surviving son of Crypton. But the second time around? Anyone paying attention should have known better.
Is Murray a Republican? Sure; she has the R by her name, after all. But is she actually conservative? The answer to that question is murky, but most signs point to no. She admitted during her 2015 campaign that she wasn’t pushing the party line, and that she identified with the GOP out of respect for the anti-slavery history. In other words, she doesn’t want to join the party of slavery – the Democrats – even though she seems supportive of the party as recently as last year.
So, can Scherie Murray defeat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2020? Maybe. Perhaps the more important question is whether it would result in any improvement for the 14th District. As to that, we can only speculate.