“She’s pissing off a lot of people.”
A group of House Democrats is reportedly scouting for primary challengers to run against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the hope of making her a “one-term congresswoman.”
The 29-year-old House freshman has alienated some of her colleagues by supporting the efforts of Justice Democrats, an anti-establishment progressive group, to unseat entrenched party members. In response, a number of prominent Democrats have begun looking for a way to cut her career short, The Hill reported Tuesday.
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“She’s pissing off a lot of people and has probably made a lot of enemies,” a New York political insider told The Hill.
According to an unnamed House member, the search is already on for a New York politician to challenge Ocasio-Cortez, who startled the party last year by trouncing 10-term Congressman Joe Crawley.
“What I have recommended to the New York delegation is that you find her a primary opponent and make her a one-term congressperson,” the lawmaker said. “You’ve got numerous council people and state legislators who’ve been waiting 20 years for that seat. I’m sure they can find numerous people who want that seat in that district.”
According to The Hill, Ocasio-Cortez, as willing to pick fights with her own party as with Republicans, has infuriated the Congressional Black Caucus by reportedly propping up a challenger against one of its members, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (she later denied it).
Jeffries said he takes Ocasio-Cortez’s denial of the reports at face value.
“There was nothing to work through. I haven’t seen a primary candidate emerge, so I assume when she denied it, she was correct that there was nothing to it,” he told The Hill. “As you can see, we are totally united behind each other. … The New York delegation sticks together.”
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Outwardly, the New York Delegation and the Congressional Black Caucus are keeping the peace.
“We are going to see what happens,” New York Rep. Gregory Meeks told The Hill. “Generally for me, I’m giving folks the benefit of the doubt, the presumption of innocence… I can only tell you that the times I’ve spoken to her, and at the times she’s been at the New York delegation meetings, she’s been cooperative and wants to be a team player. That’s what she said, so you gotta take her at her word until something changes.”
Waleed Shahid, spokesperson for Justice Democrats, told The Hill he wouldn’t lose sleep even if a challenger does emerge.
“Considering she’s more popular and well-known than some of the Democratic presidential contenders, I think whoever challenges her will lose by huge margins,” he said. “It’s a quick way for some DC and Wall Street consultants to make some easy money.”
Ocasio-Cortez responded to The Hill’s report on Twitter, claiming that it is indicative of exactly the establishment “mentality” she’s been elected to upend.
“You’ve got councilpeople who’ve been waiting 20 yrs 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.
Shows you how disconnected some folks here are. https://t.co/TMWYkboB7i
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 29, 2019
Picking up on The Hill’s reporting, The Daily Caller posted on Wednesday an interview with communication strategist Hank Sheinkopf, who named three potential New York challengers. Ocasio-Cortez immediately retorted.
Whoever is paying this “Veteran NY Dem Strategist” is getting totally fleeced ? https://t.co/MbpPuJ90u7
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 30, 2019
An indisputable firebrand, Ocasio-Cortez is leading an unapologetic leftward swerve inside her party. Though she makes many veteran lawmakers anxious, her charisma — paired with the media’s insatiable appetite for AOC content — places her as a probable kingmaker as Democrats scramble to find a presidential runner with a fighting chance against President Donald Trump.
“Our political parties have never been weaker,” conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote last year, lamenting the inability of experienced politicians to stand up to public mood swings and prevent the rise of demagogues. And with Trump and Ocasio-Cortez cemented as the current voices of their respective parties, the battle between populists and establishment moderates seems, at least for now, settled.