Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has gained in power in the upper chamber, but it is a rising force out in the House that might jeopardize his Senate seat in 2022: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
The possibility of the burgeoning political powerhouse AOC challenging Schumer in a Democrat Senate primary has the leader seeking to appeal to more of the progressive base of the party, reaching out to them in New York recently, The New York Times reported.
"He had done a bunch of homework and knew everything that we were going to ask about and made a bunch of commitments with us to make it happen," New York's Housing Justice for All's Cea Weaver told the Times. "He was like: I'm talking to Ilhan Omar, I'm talking to Bernie Sanders, I'm talking to AOC."
Schumer's strategy is ostensibly to keep his friends and potential challengers both close as he faces a 50-50 Senate split and might fear his own party turning against him if he fails to pass progressive legislation being drawn up by Democrats who now control the House, Senate, and the White House.
"He's going to have to use all the tools at his disposal to keep his caucus together; he gets that, we all get that, it's not a surprise," Working Families Party National Director Maurice Mitchell told the Times. "I think he's also really clear that the alternative is unacceptable — that he absolutely has to deliver."
Democrats might control their long-reliably blue states and districts, but the new balance of power in Washington, puts the pressure on when it comes to keeping their party's confidence.
"Any politician that's part of the old guard has to be very concerned about a potential primary," former state senator David Carlucci told the Times.
AOC has yet to officially target a Senate primary, but she has said leadership positions in the House are smaller than her true career goals.
Keeping the prospect of primarying Schumer might be AOC's ultimate goal, keeping him under pressure and keep pushing him further to the left, sources told the Times.
"The pressure is on now that he is one of the most powerful politicians in the entire country," state Assemblyman Ron Kim told the Times. "If he can't deliver, it's not just him — it's the party that will suffer in two years or four years."
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