Ocasio-Cortez announces slate of all-female congressional endorsements

Ocasio-Cortez announces slate of all-female congressional endorsements
© Greg Nash

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Harris, Ocasio-Cortez push climate equity bill with Green New Deal roots Young minority voters show overwhelming support for Biden: poll MORE (D-N.Y.) will endorse an all-female group of progressive candidates through her political action committee on Friday, The New York Times reported.

The progressive firebrand will endorse more than a dozen congressional candidates across the country, including one woman who is challenging Senate Democrats’ favored candidate in Texas.

“One of our primary goals is to reward political courage in Congress and also to help elect a progressive majority in the House of Representatives,” Ocasio-Cortez told The New York Times. “There’s kind of a dual nature to this: One is opening the door to newcomers, and the other is to reward members of Congress that are exhibiting very large amounts of political courage.” 

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The picks represent a continuation of Ocasio-Cortez’s approval of bucking a more moderate Democratic establishment in Washington. The lawmaker herself defeated former Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), a 20-year incumbent, in her upset 2018 New York primary victory. She has also endorsed Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic MORE (I-Vt.) in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

Ocasio-Cortez told The New York Times that she chose races where she thought her endorsement could help primary challengers eventually win nominations.

“Anyone can show up one day and say, ‘I support all these policies; that makes me a progressive,’ ” she said. “But one of the things that is really important to us is winning.”

In the committee’s first group of endorsements, Ocasio-Cortez is backing seven women running for congressional seats. She is supporting Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, a labor and voting rights activist who is running against M.J. Hegar, the Democratic candidate endorsed by the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm in the race against GOP Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal Republicans uncomfortably playing defense Negotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts MORE (Texas).

Ocasio-Cortez is also endorsing congressional candidates Teresa Fernandez in New Mexico, Samelys López in New York and Georgette Gómez in California. 

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She is supporting Democrat Kara Eastman, who is challenging Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) for a second time. 

The freshman lawmaker has already announced her support for two women who are challenging a pair of House Democrats in primary races. Marie Newman is running against Democratic Rep. Daniel LipinskiDaniel William LipinskiBottom line How a progressive populist appears to have toppled Engel House to pass sweeping police reform legislation MORE (Ill.), and Jessica Cisneros is running against Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas.).

Ocasio-Cortez launched the political action committee Courage to Change in January, when she promised to elect “working class champions” and fund campaigns for progressive candidates who may not be supported by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the House Democrats' campaign arm.

“It’s important for us to create mechanisms of support because so much of what is happening in Washington is driven by fear of loss,” she told the newspaper. “We can really create an ecosystem that makes people more comfortable into making the leap to make politically courageous choices.”

The DCCC angered many progressives in the party last year over a policy blocking campaign vendors from working with a primary opponent of a sitting Democrat. Ocasio-Cortez defended her decision not to pay dues to the DCCC earlier this year.

Ocasio-Cortez raised $1.4 million in January, her campaign told the newspaper. Nearly 20,000 of those contributions were directed specifically to the new political action committee.

The Hill has reached out to Ocasio-Cortez's office for comment.