AOC not ruling out challenging Chuck Schumer in primary

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not ruling out challenging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — a 22-year Senate vet and stalwart member of the “moderate” wing of the Democratic Party — in a primary next year.

When the progressive “democratic socialist,” who represents The Bronx and Queens, was asked by CNN’s Dana Bash if she is considering a campaign against her fellow New Yorker, AOC said she had not seriously considered it but also left the door open for a challenge.

“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,” she said in the late June interview that is set to air in full Monday night 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,” the 31-year-old progressive added.

Schumer, 70, who has represented New York state in the Senate since 1999, is up for re-election in 2022.

U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) celebrate together outside the U.S. Capitol Building after news that the White House intends to extend the eviction moratorium.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have worked “very closely on a lot of legislation.”
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

AOC defeated 10-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in a primary race in 2018 and went on to win the general election to represent the Empire State’s 14th Congressional District.

“For what it’s worth, Senator Schumer and I have been working very closely on a lot of legislation and that, to me, is important,” she told Bash. “And so, we shall see.”

AOC has been asked before about a potential challenge to Schumer.

In January, she told Punchbowl News that she was “very much in a place where I’m trying to decide what is the most effective thing I can do to help our Congress, our [political] process, and our country actually address the issues of climate change, health care, wage inequality, etc.”

“I’m not playing coy or anything like that,” she added.

Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, 70, is up for re-election in 2022.
Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, 70, is up for re-election in 2022.
Jonathan Ernst/Pool/Getty Images

In her CNN interview, AOC also was asked about ambitions that go beyond the Senate, including a run for the White House.

She said that looking that far into the future, at least for now, would compromise her ability to do her current job.

“I struggle with this because I don’t want little girls watching or anything like that to lower their sights or anything in that direction. But for me, I feel that if that was in the scope of my ambition, it would chip away at my courage today,” she said.

“I think what happens a lot in politics is that people are so motivated to run for certain higher office that they compromise in fighting for people today. And the idea is that if you can be as clean of a slate or as blank of a slate, that it makes it easier for you to run for higher office later on,” AOC added.

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