HomePoliticsOcasio-Cortez has never sent money to a major branch of her party....

Ocasio-Cortez has never sent money to a major branch of her party. Until now.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made her first-ever contribution to the House Democrats’ campaign arm — a $260,000 donation that marks a milestone in the New York Democrat’s long and complicated relationship with her own party’s political establishment.

In an interview, Ocasio-Cortez said her decision to surrender to the campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was primarily motivated by the serious threat of Republicans remaining in power. She feared a Republican-controlled House would not approve a possible re-election President Joe Biden this fall.

“The entire country witnessed a terrorist attack on the United States Capitol that was based on the failure to certify the duly filed results of a presidential election,” Ocasio-Cortez said of the riot on January 6, 2021. “And if anyone thinks that it wasn’t a dress rehearsal for what they might try in January 2025, I’m sorry to say but I think that’s a very naive assumption.

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Ocasio-Cortez upended the Democratic establishment in 2018 when she defeated one of the most powerful members of Congress in a stunning primary, ousting Joseph Crowley, who represented a diverse district in Queens and the Bronx and was on the cusp of a potentially to become a House. speaker. She arrived on Capitol Hill as the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives and as an immediate insurrectionist who protested that fall in the office of the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosibefore he was even sworn in.

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But Ocasio-Cortez soon began working within the political system, building alliances and pushing for policies passed into law. Her cash transfer was another step in the 34-year-old lawmaker’s evolution within the Democratic Party.

Ocasio-Cortez said the cash transfer represented her assessment that the Democratic Party’s leadership in the House of Representatives had changed enough for her to deserve her money now.

“When we look at it, we see that the entire leadership of the House of Representatives has now changed,” she said, citing the departures of Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn from the top of the House Democratic hierarchy .

“We have exercised a lot of our power through our existing channels,” she added. “Now is the time to make our influence felt in larger institutions, including the DCCC.”

Almost immediately after her election, Ocasio-Cortez became the face of a small cohort of progressives, known as “the Squad,” who sought to pull the party to the left politically and policy-wise. She was a rising star on the left and mercilessly vilified on the right. Early reports that she was considering supporting a primary challenge to another prominent New York Democrat, Rep. Hakeem Jeffrieswho is now the leader of the party, created additional friction within her party, even though no such challenge ever arose.

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In 2019, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee created a blacklist of consultants and vendors who worked for Ocasio-Cortez and other candidates challenging incumbents. She and others objected vociferously, and in 2021 the blacklist was lifted.

“Since we first took office in 2019, we have spent a lot of time trying to change this institution,” she said of the campaign committee. “And we managed to do that successfully.”

In a statement, Jeffries thanked Ocasio-Cortez for “helping protect the integrity of the electoral process and taking back the House of Representatives in 2024,” calling her “a valuable member of the House Democratic Caucus who is a powerful voice is for the voiceless and defenders. of democracy.”

Ocasio-Cortez has become one of the Democratic Party’s most prolific fundraisers; her campaign committee has raised more than $37 million since 2019. She has raised another $11.1 million for non-federal candidates and charities, including nonprofits, food banks and abortion rights groups, according to her office.

But so far, she has never given a dime to the leadership of her own party, even though Democrats in the House of Representatives are all assigned “dues” that they are expected to pay to remain members in good standing.

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Ocasio-Cortez’s $260,000 contribution is specifically earmarked for the party’s Voter Protection Program. It’s the first time a member of Congress has given money to a program that works on voter registration, polls and lawsuits.

Her political action committee has an additional $500,000 that she said was intended to defend fellow Squad members against party challengers, an amount she said was greater than her transfer to the campaign arm.

Ocasio-Cortez and the party are aware that her financial support could be used against candidates running in swing districts. But she said that with the earmarked funds, “we were just trying to make that argument as ineffective as possible for Republicans.”

The “fundamental element” of her decision to give up now, Ocasio-Cortez said, was to ensure she helped Democrats win back the House of Representatives, now narrowly controlled by Republicans.

She said she had little confidence that Speaker Mike Johnson, who will appear with former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Friday to make an “election integrity” announcement, will stop any Trump efforts to overturn the election to make, would reject.

“This party has turned into a party of Trumpism and a personality cult,” she said. “I don’t know if Mike Johnson has what it takes to defend our democracy against such a threat.”

c.2024 The New York Times Company

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