Payback: House Dems mulling primary challenge to AOC?

Sauce for the goose — or so reports Scott Wong for The Hill. Among the first efforts of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a member of the House was an endorsement of Justice Democrats, a group which plans on challenging incumbent Democrats in 2020 to swing the caucus further left. They plan to go after Hakeem Jeffries, the #5 Democrat in the House, as well as Henry Cuellar of Texas, both for being too moderate.

Well, two — or more — can play that game:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has infuriated colleagues by aligning with a progressive outside group that’s threatening to primary entrenched Democrats. Now some of those lawmakers are turning the tables on her and are discussing recruiting a primary challenger to run against the social media sensation.

At least one House Democrat has been privately urging members of the New York delegation to recruit a local politician from the Bronx or Queens to challenge Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez’ office claimed that they wouldn’t be “upset” by a primary challenge. “We believe in primaries as an idea,” said Corbin Trent, who doubles in his role as Ocasio-Cortez’ spokesperson and as co-founder of Justice Democrats. That in itself might be part of the problem, although both Jeffries and Rep. Gregory Meeks said they would give her the benefit of the doubt. How long will that last while Ocasio-Cortez allows Justice Democrats to literally speak for her while drumming up a purity campaign that takes aim at them?

It’s not as though other House Democrats will have to look far for potential challengers in Ocasio-Cortez’ district, as one “insider” pointed out to Wong. Joe Crowley’s long tenure left quite a backlog of ambitious politicians who might already resent Ocasio-Cortez’ line-jumping. One of those is named Crowley, too:

“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 Democratic lawmaker, who requested anonymity, told The Hill. “You’ve got numerous council people and state legislators who’ve been waiting 20 years for that seat. I’m sure they can find numerous people who want that seat in that district.” …

“She’s pissing off a lot of people and has probably made a lot of enemies. … A lot of people who are furious with her are Joe’s allies, including some named Crowley,” said the insider, referring to Crowley’s cousin, Elizabeth Crowley, a former New York City councilwoman. “She is a woman. She’s been moving more to the left. She would be someone interesting.”

The district got blindsided by Crowley’s collapse in the 2018 primaries. They will have had two years to prepare for the next one. If Ocasio-Cortez keeps playing footsie with Justice Democrats and allow them to control her message, it won’t be tough for some of her new colleagues to lift up another Crowley and get rid of their nuisance for good.