AOC’s PAC Endorses Slate of ‘Progressive’ Candidates to Oust Establishment Democrats

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY., gestures while testifying before the House Oversight Committee hearing on family separation and detention centers, Friday, July 12, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) announced on Friday that her new Courage to Change political action committee is going to primary a number of Democrats who are not left-wing enough for the direction she hopes to take the party and the country.

“It’s time we acknowledge that not all Democrats are the same,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a video during her campaign for the House seat she now holds. She promises in the video — with the same name as the PAC — Medicare for All, free college tuition, federally guaranteed jobs and “criminal justice reform.”

Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview included in a New York Times report about the PAC’s plans:

One of our primary goals is to reward political courage in Congress and also to help elect a progressive majority in the House of Representatives. There’s kind of a dual nature to this: One is opening the door to newcomers, and the other is to reward members of Congress that are exhibiting very large amounts of political courage.

The Times reported on the “all-female slate of progressive candidates” Ocasio-Cortez endorsed on Friday, which it characterized as “using her clout in the insurgent left and the considerable campaign funds she has drawn to counter the Democratic establishment in key races around the country.”

Those candidates endorsed include Teresa Fernandez (NM), Kara Eastman (NE), Georgette Gomez (CA), Marie Newman (IL), Jessica Cisneros (TX), and Samelys Lopez (NY).

Fernandez in New Mexico, López in New York, and Gómez in California are running for open seats in Democratic districts. Eastman is challenging Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) for a second time.

Newman will run against Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-ILL), and Cisneros is seeking to oust Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX).

The Times reported on how Ocasio-Cortez’s latest political move plays into the larger picture of the future of the Democrat party:

The move also underlines the struggle among Democrats that is defining the race for the presidency, which is pitting Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist, against more moderate candidates who are presenting themselves as better able to appeal to a broad section of voters in taking on President Trump. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has traversed the country to campaign for Mr. Sanders, and her efforts to pull Congress to the left parallel his bid to deploy his progressive message to emerge as the Democratic nominee, an effort that has instilled fear in many centrist lawmakers who believe it could cost them their seats.

Her own upset victory in 2018 over a 20-year Democratic congressman has inspired a slew of Democratic primary challenges across the nation targeting powerful incumbents — though many have little chance of winning. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who toppled a top party leader in her primary election, has carefully selected the races in which she is intervening with an eye for districts where her seal of approval would help the primary challenger prevail.

the Times reporte:

Leveraging her name recognition and ability to bring in an avalanche of donations with a single post on Twitter, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez began the Courage to Change political action committee in January, pledging to elect “working-class champions” and explicitly framing the enterprise as a progressive counterweight to House Democrats’s campaign arm.

Ocasio-Cortez raised $1.4 million in January, the Times reported, with almost 20,000 contributions directed specifically to her PAC. 

“Anyone can show up one day and say, ‘I support all these policies; that makes me a progressive,’” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But one of the things that is really important to us is winning.”

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