Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently revealed that there is a possibility she might challenge Chuck Schumer, the Democrat Senate Minority Leader, for his Senate seat in next year’s reelection.
In an interview with Punchbowl News, Ocasio-Cortez noted that “it’s a hard thing to say” right now whether Schumer was doing well at his 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 said in the program.
Back in 2018, Ocasio-Cortez had defeated a Democrat veteran in the primaries to win a seat in the House. Since then, she has been asked several times whether she would challenge Schumer. However, Ocasio-Cortez has always avoided giving a clear cut answer to the question. In December, she said in an interview with The Intercept that Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to be replaced.
However, she lamented that there was presently no one who could replace them both, something she blames on the “internal dynamics” of the House. She pointed out that there was an urgent need for new leadership in the Democratic Party. 80-year old Pelosi was recently re-elected as the House Speaker while 70-year-old Schumer was once again chosen as the leader of Senate Democrats in November.
“A lot of this is not just about these two personalities but also about the structural shifts that these two personalities have led in their time in leadership… The structural shifts of power in the House, both in process and rule, to concentrate power in party leadership of both parties, frankly, but in Democratic Party leadership to such a degree that an individual member has far less power than they did 30, 40, 50 years ago,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the interview.
She also said that the left actually has no plans as to who will fill in the positions of Schumer and Pelosi when their terms end. This is because, according to her, the current leaders of the party focused on concentrating their powers without properly grooming the next generation of leaders. Ocasio-Cortez rejected the rumor that she plans on running for the position of Speaker, saying that the position is an “extraordinarily complex” task.
According to Politico, Ocasio-Cortez’ remarks come at a time when the Democratic party is attempting to recalibrate its overall direction amidst intense struggle after unanticipated losses in the 2020 congressional races. Ocasio-Cortez and the left-wing group, the “Squad” were blamed for isolating the party’s moderate voters with their messaging revolving around far left programs such as defunding the police, the Green New Deal, free college, and Medicare-for-all.
Riots in New York City related to Black Lives Matter also pulled voters further to the right. In the wake of infighting and criticism directed against herself and those aligned with her, it may be that the freshman congresswoman is employing the method of “the best defense is a good offense” in her most direct attack against Pelosi and Schumer to date.
At present, Schumer is serving his six-year Senate term for the fourth time. The last time he was elected to the post was in 2016; he’s up for reelection in 2022. Meanwhile, the freshman congresswoman’s win over ten-term incumbent Joe Crowley in 2018 was one of the biggest upsets in that election.
As such, some political experts are anticipating an eventual clash between Ocasio-Cortez, who represents a more socialist leaning in the Democratic party, and Schumer who represents the old guard. Interestingly, President Trump believes that Ocasio-Cortez will one day run against Schumer and will easily win over him in an election. In an interview with Fox News in August last year, Trump noted that Schumer “has no chance” against Ocasio-Cortez.
Meanwhile, Schumer is completely confident in retaining his seat should he have to go against the congresswoman. In an interview with CNN in April last year, the veteran politician suggested that if “you do your job well, everything else works out okay.” Jay Jacobs, the head of New York’s Democratic Party, also thinks that Schumer will beat Ocasio-Cortez. He noted that if Ocasio-Cortez does end up challenging Schumer, such a decision would be driven primarily by ambition rather than need.