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Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images

Liberals are rising in Polarization Nation. Last night's upset of 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens points to Democratic energy that could fuel a House takeover in November.

What happened: Crowley — the No. 4 House Democrat, and the party's first incumbent to be knocked off this primary season — was shellacked 57%-43% to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former organizer for Bernie Sanders. It was the biggest congressional upset since House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost in 2014.

Why it matters:

  • A pugnacious left, along with President Trump's court victories, is showing what strong, niceties-be-damned politics can get you.
  • Medicare-for-all candidates are winning.
  • Liberal donors (notably Tom Steyer) + Trump hatred = impeachment promises.
  • House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is last night's big winner as Crowley was widely seen as a favorite to be her successor.

Thought bubble from Axios' Alexi McCammond: A 28-year-old socialist Latina beating a 56-year-old white man is the most 2018 thing to happen this cycle.

  • Just like we saw the strength of the Tea Party in 2014 with Cantor, progressives are starting to win their fight to reshape the Democratic Party.

The backdrop:

  • Crowley was a plausible challenger to Pelosi for Speaker if Dems took the House in November. (N.Y. Times A1: "Democratic Power Broker, Once a Possible House Leader, Loses New York Primary.")
  • Ocasio-Cortez made abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement one of her top demands, and protested at detention centers.
  • A N.Y. Times editorial on June 19, with a photo of Crowley in D.C., criticized him for skipping a debate with Ocasio-Cortez: "This is the second primary debate in which Mr. Crowley was a no-show ... inevitably leaving voters to wonder — what are we, chopped liver?"
  • Crowley hasn't faced a primary challenger in 14 years.
  • The district is minority-majority.
  • It wasn't the money: Crowley out-raised Ocasio-Cortez 10-1, per CNN.

The reaction:

  • A senior Democratic aide: "Pelosi has made clear that she’s staying put. Real question is which younger Members of leadership will step up in their leadership roles. One real way to do that now is to raise money now. We literally are in a position of where we cannot afford the opportunity that exists on the map."
  • Matt Bennett of the center-left Third Way: "In this Year of the Woman and Year of the Outsider, it is very tough to be neither. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez deserves credit for knocking off a titan. But her win had more to do with the nature of her very blue district than it does with national politics."
  • Bennett adds: "Sanders-style candidates are still losing almost all of the Democratic primaries they run in. If Democrats do regain control of the House ... it will be largely because of moderates winning in tough red and purple districts."
  • Matt Miller, Obama administration alumnus: "I don’t think it’s a problem [for the national party] at all. With no disrespect to Crowley, outside of Congress and K Street, no one is going to really lose sleep over an incumbent losing to an energetic Latina with a powerful message."

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Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”