POLITICS
02/01/2019 11:15 EST | Updated 02/01/2019 13:14 EST

Ocasio-Cortez Raises Over $100,000 Off Of Primary Threat Against Her

An anonymous House Democrat encouraged a challenge against her on Tuesday.

ASSOCIATED PRESS/J. Scott Applewhite
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks at an event to advocate for the Paycheck Fairness Act on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has raised over $100,000 toward her re-election in response to a call to primary her issued by an anonymous House Democrat.

Ocasio-Cortez’s re-election campaign put out the call for donations in an email blast and Facebook advertisements after The Hill reported on Tuesday that an anonymous colleague had encouraged the New York congressional delegation to run someone against Ocasio-Cortez.

“You’ve got numerous council people and state legislators who’ve been waiting 20 years for that seat,” the anonymous lawmaker said. “I’m sure they can find numerous people who want that seat in that district.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s political operation immediately sought to cast the threat as an effort by the Washington establishment to tamp down on her unabashedly progressive agenda.

“They’re plotting a primary challenge because they don’t like that we’re shaking things up in DC,” the campaign wrote in a Facebook ad.  

“We need to show how strong our campaign will be when they come after us in 2020,” the ad continued. 

Ocasio-Cortez Campaign/Facebook
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) raised over $100,000 off of the threat of a primary challenge against her.

As of Friday morning, the email blast and Facebook ads had netted the campaign $105,728, according to Corbin Trent, a campaign spokesman.

“It was a good opportunity for us to see what the base was willing to do and if they were going to stand by her in the event of a primary challenge,” Trent said. “It was a resounding: ‘Yes, they will.’”

The sum adds to Ocasio-Cortez’s already substantial campaign war chest. The Bronx-based freshman, who represents one of the most Democratic districts in the country, had over $400,000 left over after the general election in November.

Ocasio-Cortez, who rocketed to political stardom since ousting Rep. Joe Crowley, then-House Democratic Caucus Chairman, in a Democratic primary in June, has occasionally found a cooler reception inside the halls of Congress than she has on the national stage.

To start, incumbent Democrats are not fond of successful primary challengers. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) reportedly won the race to succeed Crowley as chair of the House Democratic Caucus in November thanks to a false rumor that his opponent, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), had backed Ocasio-Cortez’s primary bid. 

Ocasio-Cortez’s ties to Justice Democrats, a left-wing group that played a key role in her primary upset, have also raised eyebrows. In November, Ocasio-Cortez joined a conference call that Justice Democrats convened with activists announcing that the group is recruiting candidates to challenge centrist Democrats in safe blue seats.

Justice Democrats announced earlier this month that its first target would be Rep. Henry Cuellar, a centrist Texas Democrat who raised money for a Republican incumbent in a tough re-election battle. 

Trent clarified that Justice Democrats’ initiative is completely independent and that Ocasio-Cortez is not involved in any specific primary challenge. He did not preclude her support for primary challenges in the future, however.

“It’s just nothing we’re thinking about right now,” he said. “Right now we’re focused on setting up our offices.”