Democratic socialist freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) has definitely made her presence known among her colleagues in her few short weeks on Capitol Hill — and that’s not entirely a good thing, according to recent reports.
After taking out an incumbent Democrat who many believed would follow Nancy Pelosi as Democratic House Speaker, Ocasio-Cortez has announced to the world that she has partnered with far-left progressive group Justice Democrats, whose sole focus is primarying establishment Democrats who aren’t sufficiently liberal or "representative" of the Democrats’ increasingly "diverse" base.
"We as Justice Democrats have the chance to really transform the Democratic Party running in competitive primary elections in Democratic-held seats," one of the group’s leaders said in a recent promotional video for their campaign to primary Democrat incumbents (video below). "One of the important things that gets told in order to like settle us down is, 'I agree with you. We have the same goals,''' Ocasio-Cortez added. "It's great that everyone thinks these issues are important. We need to make them urgent." That "urgency" requires new faces and voices, like hers, ready to make radical changes now — which means ousting insufficiently radical incumbent Democrats.
According to The Hill, Ocasio-Cortez’s open call for more radical candidates to take out her fellow Democrats has "infuriated" her colleagues, some of whom are already floating the idea of finding a primary challenger who can make the youngest woman to ever be elected to Congress a "one-term congressperson."
"At least one House Democrat has been privately urging members of the New York delegation to recruit a local politician from the Bronx or Queens to challenge Ocasio-Cortez," The Hill’s Scott Wong reports.
"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 Democratic lawmaker told the outlet on condition of anonymity. "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."
Wong reports that among those who have begun to look sideways at the freshman representative are "many" Congressional Black Caucus members. "Many New York and Congressional Black Caucus lawmakers were also furious with Ocasio-Cortez after a recent Politico report stated she and the grass-roots group aligned with her, Justice Democrats, were considering backing a primary challenge to fellow New York Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, a Black Caucus member and establishment insider who succeeded Crowley as caucus chairman," Wong writes.
However, Ocasio-Cortez and the Justice Democrats deny the claims in Politico’s report.
For now, reports Wong, her fellow Democrats are playing nice, at least on the surface. Black Caucus member Rep. Gregory Meeks’ (NY) public comments on the newly elected congresswoman demonstrate the kind of skepticism underlying his and his colleagues’ approach to AOC.
"We are going to see what happens," Meeks said in an interview. Though he said he is giving her "the benefit of the doubt" and "the presumption of innocence," he made clear that she’ll only continue to get that if she is a "team player." "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," he said. "That’s what she said, so you gotta take her at her word until something changes."
She’s also reportedly angered some among the Congressional Hispanic Caucus with her plan to help the Justice Democrats take out centrist incumbent Dem. Henry Cuellar (TX). "We’re going to protect our members and we’re going to protect our own. Full stop," said former Hispanic Caucus whip Rep. Pete Aguilar (CA), Wong notes. "There are plenty of [swing] races and seats that we can play in, and we want to devote our resources to that."
Others have expressed strong doubt that the New York delegation would dare primary Ocasio-Cortez and noted that no candidate has emerged that could potentially challenge her. One insider, who stressed that the representative is "pissing off a lot of people," suggested that Elizabeth Crowley, 41, the cousin of the man she took out in the primary, might be a possibility.
Below is Ocasio-Cortez helping promote the Justice Democrats’ plan to oust incumbent Democrats: