AOC on Schumer challenge: Who knows?

AOC on Schumer challenge: Who knows?

There’s less to this than meets the eye, but it’s not nothing either. CNN will highlight Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in tonight’s Being with Dana Bash, riding off of her momentum over the eviction-moratorium win over the Biden White House. This interview took place in June, well before the showdown over the moratorium, but it can’t be a coincidence that AOC is getting the soft-focus spotlight in the aftermath.

Neither can this non-answer on next year’s primary season and Chuck Schumer (via Memeorandum):

CNN’s Dana Bash asked Ocasio-Cortez, the two-term congresswoman representing the Bronx and a leading member of the progressive wing of the party, if she will challenge Schumer in a primary race in the future.

Schumer is up for reelection in 2022, and speculation has swirled for years around whether the 31-year-old firebrand will take on her party’s Senate leader. Schumer has represented the Empire State in the upper chamber since 1999.

“I know it drives everybody nuts, but the way that I really feel about this and the way that I really approach my politics and my political career is that I do not look at things and I do not set my course positionally,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN during an interview that was conducted in late June but is set to air in full on Monday as part of CNN’s new series “Being.”

“And I know there’s a lot of people who do not believe that, but I really, I can’t operate the way that I operate and do the things that I do in politics while trying to be, aspiring to other things or calculating to other things,” she added.

The representative said the decisions she makes are based on her community’s needs before adding, “I’m not commenting on that.”

CNN’s flogging of this makes all sorts of sense … in terms of ratings for tonight. For the rest of us, this is a non-answer to a question that’s all but moot. The word-salad aspect of her non-answer makes this all the more clear. What politician does not “set my course positionally”? Isn’t running for office — even in a re-election — a “positional” course?

All of this distracts from the obvious: If Ocasio-Cortez wanted to give up her safe House seat to challenge Schumer statewide, she would have had to change directions by now. It takes a lot more money to run a Senate campaign, especially in an expensive media market like New York — several media markets, in fact, but NYC in particular. Just where does Ocasio-Cortez think she could establish a stronger base than Schumer, even with a sudden influx of media-campaign cash? She has Brooklyn; Schumer has all five boroughs, especially Manhattan. Schumer certainly sells better than AOC would outside of the Big Apple. The answer to that question is that she doesn’t think she can outfight Schumer, but she’s pandering to her progressive-activist base by not ruling out the challenge.

By 2028, perhaps that calculation will change. Schumer would be 78 years old by then, a bit long in the tooth for anything other than the Senate, and Ocasio-Cortez would have three more terms under her belt at that point, assuming she can hold her district. But if she’s not announcing a challenge to Schumer in August 2021 for the 2022 primary a year or less from now, Ocasio-Cortez isn’t going to challenge Schumer at all in this cycle. Come on, man. 

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