- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is far from done unseating incumbent members of her own party after her jaw dropping 2018 victory.
- Instead, AOC is ramping up the intra-party ‘civil war’ between progressives and establishment Democrats.
- This is the result of the power vacuum left by Obama and Hillary after 2016. It’s just like the Tea Party after Bush left office in 2009.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t done pulling the seats out from under establishment Democrats. In the U.S. House, freshman representatives used to lay low and make allies. That was the surest path to coveted committee assignments from party leadership.
But the current crop of young turks aren’t playing nice with their elders. They’re out for more scalps. It’s a repeat of the Republican Tea Party movement in 2010 and 2012. It’ll probably take another Trump term before Democrats have it sorted out.
Power Move: AOC Won’t Back House Dems
Fox News learned Friday that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is refusing to pay $250,000 in “dues” to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The committee’s job is to help House Democrats win reelection. But it’s not progressive enough for AOC:
I don’t agree with the policy around blacklisting groups that help progressive candidates. I think we need to evolve as a party and make room for that.
A CNN op-ed Thursday said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “should leave the Democratic Party.” But she’s got other plans. She wants to make incumbent, establishment Democrats leave – by forcing them out in 2020’s primaries.
Justice Democrats Running Tea Party Playbook
There’s currently a power vacuum in the Democratic Party.
That’s why it’s been at war with itself since Obama vacated office in 2016. It’s the same thing that happened after Bush left a power vacuum in 2008.
Back then Republican incumbents faced primary challenges from Tea Party candidates to their right. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah unseated establishment Republican Sen. Bob Bennett in the 2010 GOP primary.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) didn’t beat an incumbent, but he defeated Sen. Mitch McConnell’s hand picked favorite to win Kentucky’s 2010 GOP Senate primary.
In Florida, Tea Party candidate Marco Rubio defeated sitting Republican governor Charlie Crist for the 2010 Republican Senate nomination.
If the Justice Democrats’ blue wave follows the Tea Party pattern, it isn’t over yet. The Tea Party was still brewing in 2012 when it gave us Sen. Ted Cruz.
AOC Backing Progressive Primary Challengers
In 2018, the Justice Democrats helped Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley boot out ranking House members in their own primaries.
In 2020, they’re building on that success to put serious fundraising muscle behind progressive primary challengers. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) is exasperated by AOC’s support for his primary challenger, Jessica Cisneros. Cuellar says:
To have people try to purify the caucus because they don’t agree with them – 100 percent, I certainly don’t agree with that. Hopefully, we will start to get away from this circular firing squad.
In Illinois, AOC has endorsed Marie Newman in her primary challenge to eight-term congressman Dan Lipinski. The Justice Democrats are also backing Cori Bush’s bid to unseat nine-term Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay in Missouri.
Sixteen-term veteran Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Wall Street favorite Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) also face primary challenges from Justice backed Democrats.
To top it off, Sen. Bernie Sanders is giving a former vice president a run for his money (literally) in the presidential primary. The battle for the Democratic Party’s future is heating up. They probably won’t win another presidential election until one faction (progressives or establishment) decisively wins and unifies the party.