Last February, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threatened House Democrats who dared to work with Republicans, saying they were “putting themselves on a list” and that she would help challengers unseat them in 2020. At the time, her more seasoned colleagues assumed such rhetoric would abate once she learned how Congress operates. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), for example, gave her the benefit of the doubt: “She’s new here, feeling her way around. She doesn’t understand how the place works yet.” Presumably, Shrader was disabused of this fantasy when he found his name among the 24 House Democrats who will soon be “primaried” by candidates backed by two political action committees linked to AOC.
Brand New Congress, a PAC cofounded by AOC’s mentor Saikat Chakrabarti and other like-minded lefties associated with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, is backing a 2020 primary challenge to Schrader by environmental activist Mark Gamba. Schrader has represented Oregon’s 5th District since 2009 and is one of the few “Blue Dog” Democrats left in Congress. Among the heresies that incurred AOC’s wrath was his July vote against a motion offered by Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) to impeach President Trump. Schrader compounded this crime by raising the possibility of merely censuring Trump. Shortly thereafter Brand New Congress decided to endorse Gamba.
Schrader is just one of two dozen incumbent Democrats who will be primaried by candidates endorsed by Brand New Congress and the closely allied Justice Democrats, another far left PAC cofounded by Chakrabarti. Moreover, some of the Democrats targeted by these two PACs in 2020 are high-profile Democratic luminaries, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). Even more controversial is their targeting of a disproportionate number of Congressional Black Caucus members. When these PACs began taking aim at CBC members, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) expressed his anger in an interview with the Hill:
It just seems strange that the social Democrats seem to be targeting members of the Congressional Black Caucus, individuals who have stood and fought to make sure that African Americans are included and part of this process.… I don’t know what that agenda is, but if they want to come after members of the Black Caucus, it’s two ways.
It isn’t hyperbole to compare the targeting of Congressional Black Caucus members by these PACs to the gentrification of black neighborhoods by well-heeled liberals. About a third of the Democratic House members targeted by Brand New Congress and the Justice Democrats are members of the CBC. In addition to Congressman Meeks, other CBC members facing challengers supported by these two PACs are Reps. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), and David Scott (D-Ga.). Nor is the Hispanic Caucus safe. The Justice Democrats are backing a primary challenger to eight-term Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).
If any readers wonder how active AOC has been in this project, consider that she has refused to use her considerable donor network to support her party or any individual incumbent she deems insufficiently progressive. According to OpenSecrets.org, AOC has raised $3,354,731 during the current campaign cycle. The only House Democrat who has raised more is Speaker Pelosi, who has received $3,717,762 in campaign contributions. Pelosi has contributed about $900,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). AOC openly scorns the DCCC and clearly intends to restrict her contributions to insurgent candidates challenging her own colleagues. Fox News reports:
Ocasio-Cortez led online fundraisers for at least two progressives who are trying to defeat sitting Democratic members of Congress.… She solicited nearly $18,000 in donations for Marie Newman, who is taking on current Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), a conservative Democrat who opposes abortion.… Ocasio-Cortez also raised nearly $35,000 in online donations for progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros, who is trying to defeat Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).
It’s clear that AOC, working with Brand New Congress and the Justice Democrats, intends to use her ephemeral influence to transform the Democratic Party into something resembling the socialist parties that mismanage most of the “democratic” governments of Europe. Their first major step in that direction was to unseat several incumbent Democrats, including Reps. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Michael Capuano (D-Mass.). The next step is to purge the few remaining “moderates” from the party (see the following list). If they succeed, it’s good news for the Republicans. The Democrats will be kicked of out power by the voters and remain in the wilderness for a generation.