Moderate Dems Fear Socialist Label Will Give House Back to Republicans

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty Images
March 15, 2019

Centrist Democrats are concerned the socialist label being applied to the party will turn away voters and place the House of Representatives back in the hands of the Republican Party.

"As we run up to this presidential [election], we need to show that Democrats, as a whole, are not socialists," Democratic Rep. Katie Hill said. "We’re not pushing for impeachment without serious cause and serious evidence."

The freshman congresswoman represents a purple district in California.

The media attention secured by some of her fellow freshman Democrats—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.)—has prompted moderates to work with voters and donors to try to preserve the Democrats' House majority, Politico reports.

"You have these four members frankly that were elected from seats that are going to be Democratic no matter what and represent a very small fraction of the party as a whole," Hill said. "And it’s like they’re the only ones that exist."

Democrats' hold on the House is tenuous as Republicans plan to target 13 seats held by Democrats in districts President Donald Trump won in 2016. If Republicans win those districts, they only need 5 more seats to take back the House.

"We all won in districts when we were accused of being somebody else, or something else," Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.) said, referring to the GOP attaching 2018 Democratic candidates to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), who was then the minority leader.

Rep. Harley Rouda (D., Calif.) echoed her calls to separate moderate Democrats from others in the party.

"I’d like to think that the Republican Party is not run by a bunch of folks that subscribe to be nationalists, like Steve King does," Rouda told Politico. "So while Steve King’s views don’t represent the entire Republican Party, those on the far left of the Democratic Party do not represent the mainstream caucus."

Republicans are likely to tie Democratic candidates in vulnerable districts to Ocasio-Cortez and Omar, as well as to Pelosi.

Self-described democratic socialist Ocasio-Cortez has championed the Green New Deal, which could cost up to $94 trillion, according to one estimate. She has also called for a 70 percent tax rate on the country's wealthy.

Omar has been mired in accusations of anti-Semitism during much of her tenure in Congress. At an event in Washington, D.C. last month, she said she wanted "to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country." She did not apologize for her comments and repeated the anti-Semitic dual-loyalty canard in tweets directed at fellow Democratic congresswoman Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.).

Omar did apologize last month for anti-Semitic tweets, many of which were quietly deleted earlier this month. She also walked back a tweet in which she accused Israel of hypnotizing the world and performing evil acts.

Despite calls to strip Omar from her committee assignments, House Democrats instead chose to vote on an expansive resolution condemning all hate. The resolution did not name Omar.