Progressive champion Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t rule out potential primary challenge next year against Senate majority leader
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that she and fellow New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer are “working very closely” in Congress, but the progressive champion isn’t ruling out a potential 2022 primary challenge against the Senate majority leader.
Ocasio-Cortez, a two-term lawmaker who represents parts of the New York City boroughs of the Bronx and Queens, said in an interview with CNN that she and Schumer – who has served in Congress for more than four decades and has been the top Democrat in the Senate for the past four and a half years – have been allies in some blockbuster legislative battles.
“For what it’s worth, Sen. Schumer and I have been working very closely on a lot of legislation and that, to me, is important,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Dana Bash.
But Ocasio-Cortez wouldn’t rule out a primary challenge against Schumer when he’s up for reelection next year.
“I know it drives everybody nuts. But the way that I really feel about this, and the way that I really approach my politics and my political career is that I do not look at things and I do not set my course positionally,” the congresswoman said.
“And I know there’s a lot of people who do not believe that. But I really – I can’t operate the way that I operate and do the things that I do in politics while trying to be aspiring to other things or calculating to other things,” Ocasio-Cortez added.
Schumer, who was first elected to the Senate in 1998, has a savvy political touch and has never faced a serious primary challenge during his three successful reelection campaigns. He rarely criticizes the Democratic Party’s left wing and has aligned himself with top progressives during his tenure leading the Senate Democrats.
Ocasio-Cortez grabbed national attention in the 2018 primaries when she defeated longtime Rep. Joe Crowley, who was on a possible track to eventually succeed Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader. Her victory was followed that year by a handful of other progressive contenders, who also ousted longtime House Democrats, and Ocasio-Cortez became the most well-known of the group of liberal female House freshmen known as “the Squad.”