AOC Lashes Out at Pelosi Over Kennedy Endorsement

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty Images
August 20, 2020

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Thursday criticized Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) for endorsing Rep. Joe Kennedy (D., Mass.), who is mounting a primary challenge to left-wing incumbent senator Ed Markey.

Ocasio-Cortez highlighted the hypocrisy of Pelosi backing a primary challenger against an incumbent when the Democratic Party has punished progressives for doing the same thing.

"No one gets to complain about primary challenges again," Ocasio-Cortez said, calling on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to reverse the "blacklist" policy it has used against progressive organizations who support primary challengers.

The DCCC has blacklisted organizations that help progressives take on Democratic incumbents, but Ocasio-Cortez used Pelosi's endorsement of Kennedy to accuse the DCCC of "cherry-picking," since the party's leader in the House aligned herself against a Democratic incumbent. Markey is a staunch progressive who sponsored Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal legislation in the Senate, while Kennedy has had the backing of much of the party establishment.

Ocasio-Cortez also argued that Democratic hypocrisy was evident in the DCCC's treatment of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) in her primary this year against Antone Melton-Meaux.

"Ilhan’s multimillion challenge was bankrolled by DC lobbyists & dark money groups," she added in a follow-up tweet. "He blatantly admitted to using shell corporations to get around the DCCC blacklist, which all but means his vendors work w/ the Democratic Party. Yet DCCC hasn’t enforced policy. I wonder why."

Last year, the DCCC promised it would blacklist any political firms and consultants that worked with primary challengers, and it encouraged individual candidates to do the same. The blacklist policy received pushback from progressive Democrats, although they came to an agreement with Democratic leadership to continue paying their dues to the DCCC. Ocasio-Cortez had urged her followers to stop their contributions to the organization in response to the blacklist and said she would stop paying her own dues.

"DCCC made clear that they will blacklist any org that helps progressive candidates like me. I can choose not to fund that kind of exclusion," she wrote in January.

Pelosi's endorsement of Kennedy could provide a boost to the Massachusetts representative ahead of the Sept. 1 primary.

"Never before have the times demanded that we elect courageous leaders as today, which is why I’m pleased to join so many of my colleagues in endorsing Joe Kennedy III for Senate," Pelosi said in her endorsement.

Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez have clashed repeatedly since 2018. Ocasio-Cortez accused Pelosi of "explicit singling out of newly elected women of color" by going after Ocasio-Cortez and the other members of the so-called squad.