Civil war: Is AOC looking to take out Chuck Schumer?

The rumor mill in New York politics isn’t always the most reliable, but this item has attracted enough attention from senior Democratic Party officials that there’s probably some basis to it. Word on the street is that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has put out some feelers and is exploring the possibility of mounting a primary challenge against New York Senator Chuck Schumer. The former waitress, now preparing to start her second term in the House, would certainly have a large hill to climb if she wants to knock out the Senate Minority Leader. But then again, consider how she got into her current position. She took out Joe Crowley in the 2018 primary. He was considered untouchable at the time, with a huge amount of seniority. Perhaps she’s been letting all of her headlines go to her head and thinks she can just smack down anyone who stands in her way? In any event, the Chairman of the state Democratic Committee is taking the rumor seriously enough to send a very public message to AOC. Don’t do it. (NY Post)

Don’t do it AOC!

That’s the warning New York’s Democratic party boss has for the sophomore Congresswoman, who is rumored to be mulling a primary challenge to US Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

“I think it would be a primary driven by ambition more than by need,” Jay Jacobs told The Post.

“Chuck Schumer has been a progressive force in the state for decades,” added the chairman of the state Democratic committee. “She has a constituency that admires her and supports her, and they’re in her community, and I think it would be a loss for them if she were to do that.”

Jacobs went on to add a dire prediction to his warning. If you try this, you’re going to lose.

AOC’s stunning upset in the 2018 primary was certainly impressive, but keep in mind that she’s representing New York’s 14th district, residing primarily in the Bronx and part of Queens. That district so dense and compact that you can walk the entire thing in a single day. It’s custom made for retail politicking and grassroots campaigning, particularly if you’re operating on a shoestring budget. Also, the demographics of the 14th are a custom fit for AOC, with 50% of the residents being Hispanic as compared to less than 20% being White.

Her fundraising abilities have certainly improved a great deal since then, but she would need a serious buttload of money to run a campaign across all of New York State. Schumer was sitting on more than ten million dollars as of the end of the third quarter and he has a proven record of being able to raise far more than that when the need arises.

AOC’s district obviously leans heavily to the progressive/socialist side so the voters there clearly don’t object to her antics and wackier ideas, such as defunding the police. But to take Chuck Schumer’s Senate seat away, she will have to not only win over the rest of the Big Apple but the 40 percent of the population that resides in the considerably more rural and conservative upstate regions. Schumer’s considerably more moderate positions (at least in terms of today’s Democratic Party standards) have allowed him to do well in both parts of the state.

Also, Chuck Schumer has worked his way up the seniority ladder for a very long time and he has plenty of influence to wield on behalf of the state’s voters. AOC would be asking the members of her own party to give that up in favor of someone who would wind up being toward the rear of the backbench, with very few influential committee assignments enjoyed by the incumbent.

A couple of considerations make this scenario more complicated, however. First of all, Chuck Schumer is 70 years old. He seems in fine health for a man of his age, but is he going to want to sign on for six more years at 72? He hasn’t said anything about retiring that I could find, but if he decided that he’s had his fill, AOC’s chances might go up significantly running in the primary for an open seat. All she’s doing is “considering” the prospect thus far. I’m reminded of an interview she did a few months ago when she said she didn’t know if she was going to stay in the House “forever.” I thought at the time that she might be suggesting she could leave politics and move on to some other activist role. But maybe she was already mulling a move to the upper chamber?

Time will tell.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022
David Strom 4:41 PM on September 26, 2022