- Veteran Democratic members of Congress went on the record to criticize freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s tactics on Friday, sparking a public feud with her team.
- The criticism provoked an immediate, withering response from Ocasio-Cortez’s supporters, including her congressional staffers.
- “The Democratic Party and the King of England have surprisingly similar reactions to democracy when their own power is threatened,” Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, tweeted.
Veteran Democratic members of Congress went on the record to criticize freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s tactics on Friday, sparking a public feud with her aides.
Democratic lawmakers expressed frustration with Ocasio-Cortez in a Friday Politico report. Among their issues with the new member of Congress were her promise to support primary challengers to Democratic incumbents, her supporters’ demand that she have a powerful House committee seat, and her criticism of the Democrats’ rules during her first days in office.
“I’m sure Ms. Cortez means well, but there’s almost an outstanding rule: Don’t attack your own people,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat, told Politico.
The criticism provoked an immediate, withering response from Ocasio-Cortez’s supporters, including her congressional staffers.
“The Democratic Party and the King of England have surprisingly similar reactions to democracy when their own power is threatened,” Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, tweeted.
Some Democrats are said to be frustrated that Ocasio-Cortez has asked for positions on powerful committees, including the Ways and Means Committee.
“It totally pissed off everyone,” a senior House Democrat told Politico of the demand. “You don’t get picked for committees by who your grassroots [supporters] are.”
Chakrabarti accused lawmakers of “planting” their criticism in the news outlet rather than focusing on doing their jobs.
“I wish our Congress was as effective at organizing around legislation as they seem to be in organizing big money and planting crap stories in Politico,” he went on. “Bullshit like this is why people have no faith in Congress doing its job – because it doesn’t.”
Other supporters of the freshman characterized the criticism as sexist and ageist.
“The ‘know your place, little girl’ rhetoric is something that many young women have heard before. It comes from a place of misogyny, ageism, and pure jealousy,” the feminist writer Lily Herman tweeted on Friday morning, adding, “Best of luck to all the Dems who went on the record with their condescending remarks in this piece.”
Democratic lawmakers are particularly upset about Ocasio-Cortez’s promise to support primary challenges to sitting Democrats who she and allied activists think are insufficiently progressive.
In a call last November with Justice Democrats and other activists, Chakrabarti said, “We’ve got to primary folks.”
One Democratic congressional strategist wary of Ocasio-Cortez’s insurgency told INSIDER it was “the conference call heard ’round the world – or certainly ’round the caucus.”
But Ocasio-Cortez has said she’s interested only in supporting challengers to Democrats in safe blue districts.
On Friday morning, Justice Democrats – the progressive group that helped elect Ocasio-Cortez – announced its first such 2020 target: Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas. Cuellar is one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, despite representing a deep-blue district.
Leah Greenberg, an executive director of the progressive group Indivisible, argued that there should be more reporting on conservative Democrats, like Cuellar, who’ve upset the Democratic establishment.
“Henry Cuellar fundraises for Republicans, has an A rating from the NRA, votes with Trump 69% of the time, and has a terrible record on LGBT rights,” she tweeted. “I’d like to see the article about him ruffling other Dems’ feathers.”