AOC must act quickly if she expects to challenge Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Democratic primaries. It’s getting closer to the New York state filing deadline of April 7, so the time is running out.
Trouble in Paradise?
AOC has never declared a primary challenge against Schumer, who served as both majority and minority leader of the Democratic caucus. Schumer is also a well-known figure in New York politics, where his admirers praise his constituent-centric approach.
In fact, many of Schumer’s acts have been viewed as pandering to leftist activists, such as increasing spending in part of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” program.
If Chuck Schumer cared as much about reducing inflation as he does about avoiding an AOC primary, the Senate would be a more productive place.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) January 19, 2022
Some progressive activists in Washington are pushing for a primary challenge against Schumer, with Ocasio-Cortez thought to be the most likely person to run.
Ocasio-Cortez has gained national attention and fundraising power. In an interview with CNN last year, she said she’d never seriously explored a primary versus her fellow New York Democrat, but she wouldn’t rule it out.
According to Washington Examiner political science associate professor James Coleman Battista, due to his “well-established structure of followers and volunteers,” Ocasio-Cortez is doubtful to defeat Schumer in a statewide primary.
Who's afraid of AOC? Chuck Schumer, that's who. pic.twitter.com/XZbypltt6t
— 🅲🅾🅵🅵🅴🅴 🅲🆄🅿 (@used_coffee_cup) February 13, 2022
Battista believes Ocasio-Cortez’s dense, heavily Democrat districts in the Bronx and Queens might be a better fit for her.
Since a narrower cadre of very deep backers can pull on a higher percentage of doors in her targeted communities, as opposed to the figures, you’d need to knock on doors in residential or exurban areas.
“Another disparity is everyone understands she’s a genuine threat,” he continued.
Ocasio-Cortez’s primary obstacle may not enhance her profile, according to Pietrusza.
“Why would she?” he asked. “She already has a platform. She doesn’t need a bigger speaker because everything she does, says, or wears is on the internet, right?”
There are a lot of Democrats in New York. Pietrusza thinks Ocasio-Cortez or another progressive candidate might run on a third-party ticket, instead of taking on Schumer.
“In this state, a split Democrat Party would not be potentially lethal,” he remarked.
“Sometimes majority leaders lose general elections,” Pietrusza observed. “They’re mostly Democrats. It happens sometimes, but not in a primary. In New York, statewide primaries against incumbents are rare.”
Pietrusza said, “All the same factors apply besides that Schumer is such a much better candidate.” In his opinion, Ocasio-Cortez should wait to oppose New York’s other senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, in a primary.
He remarked Gillibrand is “mostly invisible.” Pietrusza believes low voter turnout in previous New York races may affect future primaries.
“Not many people are showing up,” he remarked. “I suppose democracy is crumbling out of boredom.” According to Battista, decreased turnout might result in “weird stuff” in primaries.
“In the profession, we’d say the process is heavily stochastic or random. We’d want to see polling on it,” he added. Battista said he would “wager on Schumer in that contest.”
Tensions may be high, but a clash between Schumer and AOC would be one for the books.