Former CNBC anchor to challenge Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Democratic primary

"I want everybody to have the opportunity that I've had," Michelle Caruso-Cabrera says

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published February 12, 2020 9:00AM (EST)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera (Getty Images/Salon)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera (Getty Images/Salon)

A former CNBC anchor has mounted a primary challenge against one of the Democratic Party's most prominent progressives: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

"I am the daughter and granddaughter of working class Italian and Cuban immigrants," Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said in a statement announcing her campaign Monday. "I am so lucky to have had such a wonderful career, and I want everybody to have the opportunity that I've had. That's why I'm running."

Caruso-Cabrera has a professional relationship with the business news network stretching back more than two decades, including previous stints as both co-anchor of "Power Lunch" and chief international correspondent. A registered Democrat for years, Caruso-Cabrera would likely occupy a more moderate lane than Ocasio-Cortez, who has endorsed the democratic socialist presidential campaign of Tuesday's victor in the New Hampshire primary: Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The former CNBC anchor wrote a book in 2010 titled You Know I'm Right: More Prosperity, Less Government and has long supported economic policies in favor of free market approaches and skeptical of government regulations.

Ocasio-Cortez is set to face a number of primary challengers, with another prominent contender being New York City councilman Fernando Cabrera. There is also a large field of Republicans who hope to run against the incumbent in the 2020 election, including Jamaican-American businesswoman Scherie Murray

Murray claimed that Ocasio-Cortez "chooses self-promotion over service, conflict over constituents, resistance over assistance" in a video announcing her campaign this summer. She also accused the congresswoman of "turning [jobs] away," a reference to the New York legislator's role in scuttling a potential deal that would have moved a second Amazon headquarters to her district in the Queens borough of New York.

After The Hill published an article on her possible primary rivals, Ocasio-Cortez pointed to how one of the anonymous Democrats interviewed said, "You've got council people who've been waiting 20 years for that seat." 

"That broken mentality that public office is something you wait in line for instead of earning through hard organizing is exactly what voters want to change," she said at the time. "Shows you how disconnected some folks here are."

Ocasio-Cortez was elected to Congress in 2018 after pulling off an upset primary victory over incumbent Rep. Joseph Crowley. Her campaign depicted the moderate incumbent as a figure of the Democratic Party's establishment. At one point in time, Crowley was considered to be a possible successor to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. 


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa