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Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 14th district Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends Women's March 2019 on January 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

'We Believe in Primaries': Ocasio-Cortez's Team Welcomes Any Democrat Who Wants to Challenge Her in 2020

"Shows you how disconnected some folks here are," the New York congresswoman declared after an anonymous Democratic colleague said some politicians have been "waiting 20 years" for her seat

Jake Johnson

After The Hill reported on Tuesday that some House Democrats are working to recruit a primary candidate to take on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2020, the freshman congresswoman's team welcomed any potential election opponent and vowed to continue fighting for the interests of the American public.

"That broken mentality, that public office is something you wait in line for, instead of earning through hard organizing, is exactly what voters want to change."
—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

"We believe in primaries as an idea. We're not upset by the idea of being primaried. We are not going to go out there being anti-primary—they are good for [the] party," said Ocasio-Cortez spokesman Corbin Trent. "If voters in the district feel that they can be better represented, that will be their choice on primary day. In the meantime, we're going to be doing our dead-level best to make sure we are representing the needs and the will of our constituents."

Speaking to The Hill after the outlet granted anonymity to levy the criticisms, one House Democrat claimed to have already begun recruiting potential primary challengers to run against Ocasio-Cortez.

"What I have recommended to the New York delegation is that you find her a primary opponent and make her a one-term congressperson," the Democrat said.

The unnamed lawmaker went on to proclaim that "numerous council people and state legislators" have "been waiting 20 years for that seat"—referring to the district Ocasio-Cortez won by upsetting powerful Wall Street Democrat Joe Crowley last year.

As The Hill notes, "the Queens and Bronx district is home to many ambitious pols who are close to Crowley and don't like that a political outsider took his seat."

Ocasio-Cortez was quick to respond to her anonymous colleague's remarks, declaring in a tweet on Tuesday that they reveal "how disconnected some folks here are."

"That broken mentality, that public office is something you wait in line for, instead of earning through hard organizing, is exactly what voters want to change," the New York congresswoman added.

If a primary challenger does ultimately emerge and attempt to unseat Ocasio-Cortez, Waleed Shahid of Justice Democrats predicted that the New York congresswoman—who is unabashedly fighting for ambitious and popular policies like a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and a 70 percent top tax rate on the ultra-rich—would win in a landslide.

"Considering she's more popular and well-known than some of the Democratic presidential contenders, I think whoever challenges her will lose by huge margins," Shahid told The Hill. "It's a quick way for some D.C. and Wall Street consultants to make some easy money."

Both on the record and behind the cover of anonymity, congressional Democrats in recent weeks have expressed anger at Ocasio-Cortez's willingness to criticize members of her own party who are not fighting for bold progressive policies that most Americans support.

As Politico reported earlier this month, some Democrats were incensed by Ocasio-Cortez's comments in support of primaries against Democrats who continue to take corporate money.

"[A]ll Americans know money in politics is a huge problem, but unfortunately the way that we fix it is by demanding that our incumbents give it up or by running fierce campaigns ourselves," Ocasio-Cortez declared during a national strategy call in November.

A New York "political insider," who also spoke to The Hill on the condition of anonymity, said the New York congresswoman is "pissing off a lot of people and has probably made a lot of enemies."

Responding to The Hill's reporting on Tuesday, Capital & Main journalist David Sirota concluded that "the biggest political threat" to Ocasio-Cortez likely "isn't a primary, but is instead notoriously corrupt Albany trying to use redistricting to eliminate or cut up her congressional district."


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