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As New Yorkers continue to practice social distancing to mitigate the coronavirus, the state’s elected Democrats are politically distancing from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as they work to craft coronavirus relief.
And there are a number of reasons for that, according to insiders who spoke to the New York Post.
“They are not looking to work with her and they want nothing to do with her,” one source with the inside track to New York state politics told the paper, noting that members of the delegation think she’d try to take credit for what they are doing.
Another insider source told the Post that AOC, a freshman socialist who’s very outspoken, as readers know, just doesn’t mesh well with her fellow New York Democrats.
“She hasn’t made many friends in the delegation,” the second source, who’s a staffer in a New York representative’s office, told the Post.
Some of the ill-will comes from AOC’s tendency to go it alone and in the process, create tensions and infighting among her party instead of trying to build coalitions, as is the political tradition.
For instance, last month — as the House was debating a $484 billion coronavirus relief bill — Ocasio-Cortez joined with four Republicans to vote “no” on the measure, along with Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Jody Hice of Georgia and Thomas Massie of Kentucky.
She complained that the measure didn’t do enough to protect small business loans from going to larger companies while blasting Republicans, though her party supported the bill unanimously.
“It is a joke when Republicans say that they have urgency around this bill,” she said at the time, the Post noted in a separate report. This, as Democrats who control the House essentially allowed another 4.4 million Americans to be tossed out of work because they refused to pass a clean $250 billion relief measure proposed days earlier by President Trump.
In any event, there are plenty of reasons why the state’s delegation isn’t having much to do with AOC.
For one, just to win office she defeated then-Rep. Joe Crowley in the 2018 primaries, who at the time was viewed as becoming the next House leader for his party. And she did it essentially by running against the Democrat Party machine.
“Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had used Mr. Crowley’s role in the leadership, and the fact that he was the head of the local Democratic Party machine, against him in her bid to upend the existing political class,” The New York Times reported in June 2018.
Also, at nearly every turn she has either shunned or challenged the party hierarchy, alienating herself from the traditional Democrat caucus.
Shortly after winning her seat, AOC participated in ‘Justice Democrats’ strategy call with 700 others and urged people to run against incumbent Republicans and Democrats.
“Long story short, I need you to run for office,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “All I’m asking you to do is throw your hat in the ring, say ‘what the heck.’”
“All 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,” she added.
In March 2019, shortly after being sworn into her first term a few months earlier, she urged members not to contribute money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after the organization implemented a new rule that punished pollsters, strategists and other campaign vendors if the worked with candidates challenging Democrat incumbents.
“The @DCCC’s new rule to blacklist+boycott anyone who does business w/ primary challengers is extremely divisive & harmful to the party. My recommendation, if you’re a small-dollar donor: pause your donations to DCCC & give directly to swing candidates instead,” she wrote on Twitter.
The @DCCC’s new rule to blacklist+boycott anyone who does business w/ primary challengers is extremely divisive & harmful to the party.
My recommendation, if you’re a small-dollar donor: pause your donations to DCCC & give directly to swing candidates instead.
Some great ones:
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 30, 2019
Whether or not the rule is fair isn’t the issue; it was backed by the party leadership and most of the Democratic caucus, so her position and those of fellow “Democratic socialists” like her ‘Squad’ rankled the Nancy Pelosi wing of the party. Plus, it alienated her from receiving Democratic National Committee support.
And she only compounded the insult by becoming a fundraising queen and then refusing to ‘share the wealth.’ In the third quarter of 2019, she even out-raised Speaker Pelosi, making her refusal to contribute to the DCCC even more angering to her party.
“Sometimes the question comes: ‘Do you want to be in a majority or do you want to be in the minority?’” Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y. told Fox News. “And do you want to be part of a team?”
Her office denied that she was a political outcast from her own party.
“The Congresswoman has been in touch directly with the Governor since the crisis began. Over several phone calls, most recently this Monday, she has offered personally to assist him with state efforts in our district,” spokeswoman Lauren Hitt told the Post.
“We work very regularly with other members of the NY delegation around COVID-19,” Hitt added, citing several collaborative projects.
Maybe so, but that hasn’t endured her to her Democratic Party caucus or citizens in her district, as evidenced by the fact that she’s got more than a few people running against her this year.
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