As His Election Approaches, AOC is Clearly on Chuck Schumer’s Mind.
It‘s obvious that the New York Senator is worried about the sophomore progressive Congresswoman who could challenge him for his seat.
With election seasons seemingly starting sooner and sooner with each one that passes, it becomes increasingly obvious in the months and even weeks following an election which lawmakers in the Senate in particular are up for re-election in the next one. After Democrats took control of the Senate following the Georgia runoff election, New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer now finds himself as not only the newfound Senate majority leader, he’s also in the precarious position of being up for re-election in 2022. When one considers how not only his leadership skills, but his positions seem to have shifted over the course of the past few weeks, there’s no denying that Schumer is worried about a challenge to his seat. A challenge from none other than sophomore congresswoman from New York’s 14th district, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Since before the November election took place, there has been an increasingly frequent conversation on the left regarding AOC’s growing political capital, and the unique position she has as one of probably the only people in New York who would stand any chance of mounting a successful challenge to Chuck Schumer. Even after the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Schumer inviting AOC to help him urge the GOP not to fill her seat before the election and for Democrats to do everything in their power to stop that from happening, it was clear that Schumer had an idea of who he would need to keep an eye on as his upcoming election approaches.
Frankly, why wouldn’t he be worried?
As much as corporate Democrats and established Democrats in their stronghold state of New York might like to deny it, AOC is a force that is not going away. Mounting a successful challenge against one of the most powerful Democrats in congress — Joe Crowley — in New York City, the heart of the Democratic establishments turf, is no small feat, especially as a young bartender with a people funded campaign based entirely on organizing efforts and capabilities. Since then, the strength of her position and her voice has only grown, and AOC has certainly solidified her position in only two years as one of the most powerful and influential voices in the Democratic party. Whether it be the fact that she almost singlehandedly salvaged Bernie Sanders’ campaign when the media had all but written him off after his heart attack, or that she made policy proposals like the Green New Deal part of the mainstream political discourse, there’s no denying that she has a bright future ahead of her.
It seems as though her future is becoming a bit more real, with the chairman of the New York Democratic party taking it upon himself to use the press to warn AOC not to challenge Senator Schumer for his seat. Clearly, this has not at all deterred AOC from at least thinking about the possibility, with her team leaking to the Press that she is “seriously considering” a Senate run just days before Senate Democrats — under the leadership of Senator Schumer — happened to move forward with the $1.9 trillion covid relief bill through budget reconciliation, so that they would not need a single Republican vote.
Reports did indicate that AOC was hinging her decision on how he handled his position of majority leader, and clearly, Schumer is feeling the pressure.
But of course, that hasn’t been the only instance where it’s been obvious that Schumer is worried about the prospects of AOC challenging him. Convenient, isn’t it, that just recently he has revealed himself to be on the left of Joe Biden when it comes to student debt, joining Senator Warren in urging the President to use his power to forgive $50,000 in federal student loan debt for Americans? Interesting how he decided to work with her in an effort to secure that anyone who lost a loved one due to Covid 19, they would be able to get reimbursed up to $7000 for the cost of laying their loved one to rest.
As much as I genuinely respect AOC and her leadership abilities, there are times where I genuinely wonder if she fully understands just how much power she has, especially with a slimmer Democratic majority in congress and an established Senator from her own state being up for election in 2022. Suffice it to say that Schumer himself is telling AOC in as plain political language as he possibly can that there has never been a better time for her to aim for higher office, and pressure her incumbent opponent to the left while doing so. Of course, I’m not under the impression that she would have an easy time doing so, and I’m far from certain that she would win. That said, just because there are no guarantees of victory does not mean the battle is not worth fighting, especially now when so much depends on politicians feeling the pressure to meet this moment.
Suffice it to say, I will be incredibly disappointed if AOC doesn’t go for it. In the same spirit as Barack Obama expressed to Pete Buttigieg in his efforts to get the more centrist candidates in the 2020 primary to rally around Biden to stop Bernie from clinching the nomination, AOC has leverage, and now is the time to use it.