Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) may have anticipated a long and prosperous career in Congress, but if the Democrats in New York’s state legislature have their way, the freshman Member may be out of a job as soon as 2022.
According to pollster Frank Luntz, New York is likely to lose a seat in Congress after the 2020 census and Democrats in the state legislature will have to redraw the state’s Congressional districts as a result. Although there are plenty of places to cut, New York Dems are reportedly eyeing Ocasio-Cortez’s Bronx district for elimination because she’s been out of sync with state-level Democrats who control the process.
“New York is expected to lose a House seat after the 2020 Census, and state Democrats are looking to draw out @AOC’s district,” Luntz wrote on Twitter. He included a link to an article from a local New York City magazine, The City, that suggested the Ocasio-Cortez is doubling down on her efforts to encourage her constituents to fill out the 2020 census so that she can stay in office.
Ocasio-Cortez’s main problem is that many of her constituents happen to be “undocumented” — “non-citzens,” as The City puts it. The Trump Administration pushed to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census so that they could quantify where illegal immigrants and other undocumented workers were moving to after entering the country. The Administration ultimately dropped that bid when it was clear the change would be tied up in litigation beyond the deadline for the 2020 census questions, but The City points out that illegal immigrants may still be nervous about filling out official government documentation, even if it is an anonymous survey.
“For Ocasio-Cortez, a full Census count is more than a matter of making sure her district gets all the funds and services it’s due. In a sense, her own political fortunes could hang in the balance,” the outlet reported in August. “A review by THE CITY, building on data and analysis by The Texas Tribune, suggests Ocasio-Cortez’ district could be particularly vulnerable to undercount because a little over a quarter of those living there are non-citizens…That’s a higher percentage than any other congressional district in the state.”
“A Census undercount in Ocasio-Cortez’ district and elsewhere in the state could lead to the elimination of congressional districts — potentially setting off politically charged redistricting battles,” the outlet added.
The Intercept pointed out back in February, when rumors began to surface that Ocasio-Cortez could be out of a job as soon as the 10-member districts commission met after the 2020 census, that Ocasio-Cortez isn’t a typical politician and she doesn’t play well with her own state party, which ultimately controls which member of the New York delegation to Congress won’t be returning to work.
“New York politics are famously insular,” the Intercept reported, “with a tight circle controlling major decision-making for years. That began to shift in 2018, not just with Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, but also wins from a number of insurgent candidates against Democrats who had caucused with Republicans in the state Senate.”
To punish the progressives, New York’s Democratic establishment might boot the upstart, in other words.
Ocasio-Cortez does have an insurance policy: she won’t be leaving politics anytime soon, and if she’s yanked out of the House, she could easily run for Senate, challenging Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), or move to a new district and run there. Her ties to the Bronx are questionable, anyway, and her name recognition is high — even if her own constituents say she rarely shows up in her own district to listen to their concerns.