Can an Ocasio-Cortez-supported Democratic Socialist candidate win in Hawaii?

Can an Ocasio-Cortez-supported Democratic Socialist candidate win in Hawaii?

Hawaii 1st Congressional district candidate Kaniela Ing is receiving national attention, especially after he became the first candidate to be endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after her historic primary victory over Rep. Joe Crowley in June. The 30-year-old state representative is proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America. 

But it’s unclear if the outpouring of national support will help him win a six-way race in Hawaii’s primary elections on Sunday.

The day after she won her primary election, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for Ing. “He is incredibly inspiring – another working class American who knocked on 15,000 doors to win his state assembly seat,” she wrote. “Now he’s running for Congress. Imagine what we could accomplish if we both went in tomorrow.”

Ocasio-Cortez is traveling to Hawaii on Thursday to campaign with Ing.

It is easy to draw parallels between Ing’s campaign and that of Ocasio-Cortez. A campaign ad for Ing released in July was produced by the same company that created Ocasio-Cortez’s viral campaign video. He released another campaign spot on Wednesday which showed him strumming a ukulele while saying that “Hawaiian values” are Democratic Socialist values.

“When we talk about policies like Medicare for All, universal health care, housing for all, public education through college, canceling student debt – these are just policies that would make everyday, working people’s lives dignified,” Ing said in the ad. “All this stuff is possible, we just cannot lose hope, and we’ve got to come out and vote.”

While he may benefit from low voter turnout, which some believe Ocasio-Cortez did, he faces five primary opponents, unlike Ocasio-Cortez, who faced one. 

Ing is facing big names such as former Rep. Ed Case, current Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, and state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim in the race for the seat soon to be vacated by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Ed Case, current Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, and state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim. Case, a former member of the conservative Blue Dog Democrats caucus while in Congress, and has argued that the district is too conservative to accept some radical progressive policies. Chin, who is also the former state attorney general, and Kim both have strong establishment credentials as longtime figures in Hawaii politics.

Further, Ing isn’t the only progressive option for voters. State Rep. Beth Fukumoto, a Republican until the election of Mr. Trump inspired her to switch parties in 2017, supports abolishing U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and creating a single-payer health care system, like Ing.

Ing trails behind Case, Chin, and Kim in a poll taken in mid-July

Despite Ocasico-Cortez’s shot to stardom after her win, candidates endorsed by her have a mixed success rate this election cycle. Cori Bush lost her primary bid against Rep. William Lacy Clay in Missouri, and Abdul El-Sayed was easily defeated by Gretchen Whitmer in the Democratic primary for governor in Michigan. However, Ocasio-Cortez-supported congressional candidates Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and James Thompson in Kansas won their primaries on Tuesday night.

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