Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez To Endorse Sanders
Not surprisingly, AOC is getting behind Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination.
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will endorse the Presidential campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders later this week, as will another member of the so-called “squad” of minority freshman Congresswomen that she is a part of:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, one of the most influential voices among young liberals and a rising Democratic star, plans to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president and appear with him at a rally on Saturday, according to two people with knowledge of her plans.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), another member of the “Squad” of four liberal congresswomen, also announced late Tuesday that she was backing Sanders.
The surprise endorsements are a political coup for Sanders, 78, who has been fading in the polls and faced growing questions about his age and health. Before Tuesday’s Democratic debate, he had been sidelined from the campaign trail for two weeks by a heart attack.
“We’re looking forward to Saturday,” said Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez. Sanders teased the rally at Tuesday night’s presidential debate, saying he would have a “special guest” appearing with him in New York.
In a statement, Omar said she had worked closely with Sanders on several policy initiatives, including a measure to cancel student debt and another to provide year-round school meals.
“Bernie is leading a working class movement to defeat Donald Trump that transcends generation, ethnicity, and geography,” Omar said.
Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said the congresswomen could excite younger voters.
“You’ve heard Senator Sanders talk a lot about [how] the revolution is going to happen when you have a lot of young people get involved in the process,” Shakir said. “And you have a couple individuals here who I think have a unique ability to inspire young people, so we’re excited about the direction of this campaign.”
The endorsements could be a blow for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who, like Sanders, is running on a platform of sweeping liberal change and who has emphasized her role as a female pioneer. Ocasio-Cortez had worked as a volunteer organizer for Sanders’s 2016 presidential bid; she was recruited to run for Congress in 2018 by Justice Democrats, a group that grew out of the Sanders campaign.
It isn’t entirely surprising to see Ocasio-Cortez endorse the Senator from Vermont. Not long after she won the Democratic nomination for her Congressional seat last year, AOC began campaigning around the country with Sanders in support of progressive candidates for Congress. Some of their travels took them to unlikely places such as Kansas, where their success was understandably limited, to California and other places. Granted, many of these stops were as much about Sanders and AOC as they were about the candidate they were endorsing, but the alliance between someone who had served in Congress and the Senate since 1991, when Ocasio-Cortez was two years old, and a woman who had not even a Member of Congress yet notwithstanding her national stature was a natural one given how much in common the two have ideologically.
Along with Representative Omar’s endorsement, AOC’s endorsement could go a long way toward boosting Sanders’ campaign, which has been lagging significantly behind Senator Warren and former Vice-President Biden over the past month. Additionally, it will help Sanders relaunch his campaign in what will be his first big campaign rally since his heart attack at the start of the month. It will also be interesting to see the extent to which AOC in particular acts as a surrogate for Sanders and where they choose to send her. She could prove to be useful in places such as California and other post-February states where Sanders will need to perform well to keep his campaign above water in the face of what is likely to be a month in which Biden and Warren end up splitting wins in the four early states.
As for AOC, this kind of event is likely to boost her influence and prestige inside the Democratic Party generally and the progressive wing of the party in particular. As it stands, she’s likely to be able to stay in Congress as long as she wishes unless she ends up facing a surprise in the Democratic Primary. Where she goes from there will depend in no small part on the vicissitudes of New York politics. Advancement outside the House is basically impossible in the Empire State right now since both Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand have the state and national parties firmly behind them. Thus, if she wishes to advance politically she may have to wait quite awhile.