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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on July 28, 2022. (Photo: Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

'Take Some Ownership': AOC Hits Back After Defeated DCCC Chair Lashes Out

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney rejected Ocasio-Cortez's criticism of New York's "calcified political machine," which she said contributed to Democratic losses in the U.S. House.

Julia Conley

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday evening rebuked outgoing Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who had earlier claimed in an interview with The New York Times that the progressive congresswoman contributed little to campaign efforts and suggested her policy priorities—several of them popular with Democratic voters—are harming the party.

"I do think that this is a signal that being outwardly antagonistic, including trying to defeat progressive candidates, trying to demoralize those bases, is not healthy for the prospect of democratic gains."

Ocasio-Cortez has spoken at length to both the Times and The Intercept since Tuesday's midterm elections about progressive politics and the Democratic Party, taking aim at what she called a "calcified political machine" in her home state and blaming decisions by New York State Democratic Committee chair Jay Jacobs and the "infrastructure" built by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the party's losses in New York.

Republicans flipped four U.S. House seats in the state and now represent 10 of New York's 26 congressional districts.

The congresswoman, who easily won her own race with more than 70% of the vote, noted that the Republican Party poured millions of dollars into defeating a state ballot initiative which would have protected a district map that was favorable to Democrats.

"The New York State Democratic Party didn't drop $1 in making sure that we got this thing passed," Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept on Wednesday.

Maloney sparked outrage on the left this year when he announced he would run in New York's 17th District instead of the 18th, which he has represented since 2013, ousting progressive Rep. Mondaire Jones.

Speaking to the Times on Thursday, Maloney brushed off the notion that redistricting hurt the party and suggested suburban voters in the state, like those in the district he narrowly lost in the Hudson Valley, are turning against the party due to Republicans' messaging on crime rates and are rejecting progressive policy proposals.

"You have these suburban voters who are experiencing those messages coming out of New York City outlets, which were heavily focused on crime," Maloney told the Times. "There are other voices who should be heard, especially when suburban voters have clearly rejected the ideas that [Ocasio-Cortez]'s most associated with, from defunding the police on down."

The congressman also accused Ocasio-Cortez of offering little help to her fellow candidates while claiming that funding she did offer wasn't wanted by other Democrats:

I didn't see her one minute of these midterms helping our House majority... She had almost nothing to do with what turned out to be an historic defense of our majority. Didn't pay a dollar of dues. Didn't do anything for our frontline candidates except give them money when they didn't want it from her...

She's an important voice in our politics. But when it comes to passing our agenda through the Congress, or standing our ground on the political battlefield, she was nowhere to be found.

Ocasio-Cortez took to social media to respond, noting that she campaigned for Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) in late October and saying Maloney had reached out to her regarding fundraising for House candidates.

She added that many members were happy to receive "early financial support to position themselves early" in the election cycle, and called on the corporate-backed wing of the party to "take some ownership" for rejecting more help from progressives.

At The Intercept, Ocasio-Cortez expanded on progressive Democrats' support for policies that are popular with crucial factions of the party's voter base, and the "moderate" wing's rejection of those issues, comparing Rep. Tim Ryan—a vocal opponent of President Joe Biden's student debt relief plan who lost a U.S. Senate race in Ohio—with Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a progressive who won the seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey:

I do hope that there is a reflection on being outwardly antagonistic towards a very enthused progressive base, especially one in which young people delivered these wins. If you look at the difference between Tim Ryan and John Fetterman, as races, some of the preliminary data is suggesting that they had the same turnout in almost every demographic except young people. And as we know, young people skew way progressive within the party. And so when you outwardly antagonize, and outwardly seek to belittle and distance oneself from progressive values, you demoralize your base.

"It's not to say that everybody has to be holding the same line on progressive causes dependent on their community," Ocasio-Cortez added "But it doesn't—I do think that this is a signal that being outwardly antagonistic, including trying to defeat progressive candidates, trying to demoralize those bases, is not healthy for the prospect of democratic gains."


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