Justice Democrats fire back at Bustos over comments on primary challenges

The progressive group Justice Democrats rebuked Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosProgressives to target Dem reps in 2020 primary fights GOP maps out early 2020 strategy to retake House Dem rep: ‘Partial wall’ is fine MORE (D-Ill.) on Thursday after she said that the job of her party’s House campaign arm is to back incumbents.

Waleed Shahid, Justice Democrats’ communications director, said in a tweet that, if it were up to Bustos, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez rips Trump in first House floor speech: 'It is not normal to shut down the government when we don’t get what we want' On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Supporters leave notes on plaque outside Ocasio-Cortez's office MORE (D-N.Y.) likely would have had no chance at ousting former Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a shocking primary upset last year.

“If Cheri Bustos had her way there would likely be no Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” Shahid wrote, noting that most Americans “live in congressional districts where there are no competitive general elections.”

“Let's have more choices and democracy inside the Democratic Party.”

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Shahid’s tweet came after Bustos told Politico in an interview that while she’s keen to “learn from someone like” Ocasio-Cortez, she has a responsibility as the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to “support Democrats in the House.”

Bustos said the DCCC should instead focus on fighting off potential Republican challenges to the Democrats’ newfound House majority.

“I hope we don’t have to deal with a lot of primary angst because it takes a lot of resources when that happens,” she said. “We’ve got a tough two years ahead, with the other side of the aisle, so I hope those are the battles we can focus on.”

The Hill has reached out to DCCC for comment.

Ocasio-Cortez, who was sworn into the House on Thursday, gained national attention in June after pulling off a come-from-behind win over Crowley, a 10-term incumbent who served as the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

In November, Ocasio-Cortez threw her support behind an effort by Justice Democrats to encourage political newcomers to mount primary challenges against Democratic incumbents.

The group backed Ocasio-Cortez’s primary campaign against Crowley last year.