AOC leaves door open to primarying Schumer in 2022
The congresswoman from New York City was asked if she had a timeline for deciding whether or not to challenge Schumer and his more than 20-year tenure in the Senate in 2022 and if she believed he was doing a good job.
“It’s a hard thing to say, too. We’ve had to deal with a fascist president and Mitch McConnell,” Ocasio-Cortez told the newly launched Punchbowl News. “There’s this thing, ‘Are we doing a good job?’ There are things you can do in the minority. There are also things you couldn’t do with this minority because Senate rules changed.”
“I like to think of myself as a good-faith actor and not make unfair critiques. But I do wonder,” she added.
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“I’m not playing coy or anything like that. I’m still very much in a place where I’m trying to decide what is the most effective thing I can do to help our Congress, our [political] process, and our country actually address the issues of climate change, health care, wage inequality, etc.,” Ocasio-Cortez also said.
When asked about whether her decision would be affected if Democrats appear likely to lose their House majority in 2022, Ocasio-Cortez replied: “I’m not sure about that either. For me, I don’t make these decisions based on these short-term factors.”
The 31-year-old congresswoman also explained to the newsletter that she is looking beyond the next couple of years in her life and career, saying: “If I want to have a child, I would want my child—or my nieces or nephews to have guaranteed health care by the time they’re my age. And freedom from want. I’m also very indecisive.”
When asked about her relationship with Schumer, the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, the congresswoman told Punchbowl that “[h]e and I have an open relationship, we speak to each other regularly.”
These remarks come after the self-described Democratic socialist last month stated that Democrats need “new leadership.” She noted, however, that “the House is extraordinarily complex, and I’m not ready. It can’t be me. I know that I couldn’t do that job.”
Ocasio-Cortez shot to fame during the 2018 midterm elections, when she shockingly unseated the incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, a then-member of the House Democrats’ leadership who had been in Congress since 1999, becoming the darling of progressives. She easily won reelection in November, and in recent months there has been speculation surrounding what’s next for the 31-year-old rising star.
Despite the viral fame and massive following that Ocasio-Cortez has found on social media, the political power she holds is still finite. Last month, the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee voted to seat Long Island, N.Y. Rep. Kathleen Rice—a moderate—on the coveted House Energy and Commerce Committee instead of Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the Bronx and Queens.
Ocasio-Cortez has previously refused to rule out running for Schumer’s seat. When asked back in April if she would rule out a 2022 campaign against Democrats’ leader in the Senate, she responded by saying “I don’t know.”
She has also said in the past that she was not thinking of the Senate “in any serious way.”
The head of the New York State Democratic Party, Jay Jacobs, however, is urging Ocasio-Cortez not to challenge Schumer in 2022. In December, Jacobs told The New York Post that the young congresswoman would “absolutely” lose in such a bid.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.