U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday endorsed Helen Gym for Philadelphia mayor, becoming the latest in a string of celebrities and Democrats with national profiles to back her candidacy.
“Helen isn’t afraid to take on tough fights or go up against big special interests,” Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) said in a statement. “And when she does, she wins.”
In a statement, Gym said she was “honored” to receive the endorsement, saying, “From Philly to New York to Chicago, a bold grassroots movement grounded in meeting people’s basic needs is sweeping the country.”
Gym, who has before been compared to Ocasio-Cortez, has amassed a handful of endorsements from progressives across the country, including Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. She’s also been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.), who are Ocasio-Cortez’ fellow members of “the Squad,” a group of left-leaning lawmakers in Congress.
And she’s won the backing of a few celebrities from outside Philadelphia, including actor and longtime environmental activist Mark Ruffalo and actress Jane Fonda, whose climate-change focused political action committee contributed to Gym’s campaign.
» READ MORE: Voters guide: Read about each of the Democratic candidates here
Gym has solidified herself as the progressive choice ahead of the May 16 primary election. In addition to support from leaders of the national movement, Gym is backed by a handful of local progressive elected officials — such as State Sen. Nikil Saval, State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, and Councilmember Jamie Gauthier — each of whom toppled establishment-backed incumbents to win office in recent years.
Left-leaning groups like the Working Families Party and Reclaim Philadelphia have also backed Gym and are planning a robust get-out-the-vote effort.
The coveted AOC endorsement comes as Gym’s opponents have consolidated support from other political corners. Cherelle Parker, a former City Council member, is being backed by a bevy of local elected Democrats, including Council President Darrell L. Clarke and both members of Congress representing Philadelphia.
Rebecca Rhynhart has won support from three former mayors. She is endorsed by John F. Street, Michael A. Nutter, and Ed Rendell.
A recent poll commissioned by the good-government group Committee of Seventy showed the race is a toss-up between five Democrats seeking the nomination. The winner of the primary will be well-positioned to prevail in November, given Philadelphia’s heavily Democratic electorate.