Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ‘not planning’ to run for Senate seat in 2024


Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters

Edward Helmore

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will not run for a seat in the US Senate next year, according to her office, clearing the way for incumbent New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, to run for re-election unopposed by the progressive congresswoman.

“She is not planning to run for Senate in 2024. She is not planning to primary Gillibrand,” Lauren Hitt, Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesperson, told Politico.

Gillibrand, who launched her re-election campaign in January for a third Senate term, was widely believed to be facing a number of potential challengers in the state primary, including Ocasio-Cortez.

The announcement follows indications from other New York progressives, including Mondaire Jones and representatives Jamaal Bowman and Ritchie Torres, that they are not considering a challenge.

New York Democrats were hit hard in the midterm elections last year and the loss of four seats to Republican candidates is widely blamed for the party losing control of Congress. Avoiding an acrimonious challenge from the progressive wing of the party, and concentrating on recovering the 2022 losses, is considered to be Democrats’ political priority.

“I think it’s divisive. And unless you think you can win, it’s divisive unnecessarily,” Jay Jacobs, chair of the New York Democratic party, told Politico. “It’s using up resources we need to preserve for more coordinated work and the rest.”

Camille Rivera, a New York-based progressive strategist, said that an intra-Democrat contest “could be pretty bruising and give a Republican a leg up”.

Signs of a deal between Ocasio-Cortez and Gillibrand came after rumors of a Senate seat challenge began to circulate last year. Gillibrand has faced criticism for her part in forcing former senator Al Franken’s resignation, accepting donations from indicted crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried and ties to Wall Street.

But Ocasio-Cortez’s staff’s choice of language – “not planning to run” is not the same as “not running”. Bronx representative Jamaal Bowman told the outlet he heard AOC’s name “weeks ago or months ago maybe” as a primary contender but hadn’t heard it since.

Ocasio-Cortez’s indication comes as high-profile progressives have said they’ll support Joe Biden’s re-election bid, despite misgivings about parts of his agenda. Ocasio-Cortez has said she “unequivocally” supports the party’s nominees.

Since Biden’s re-election soft launch on Tuesday, the sitting president has received endorsements from congressional progressive caucus leader Pramila Jayapal, representative Ro Khanna, and squad members Ilhan Omar, Greg Casar and Delia Ramirez.

The endorsements come despite disquiet about Biden’s recent push to the middle on crime, energy policy and immigration.

“I think that people are looking at the incredible accomplishments, particularly the investments in climate change and equity, racial justice, and seeing that this is night and day from what anyone else has been able to do,” Jayapal told the Hill.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has said she’s “delighted” about Biden’s decision. “I’m in all the way,” she told the outlet.

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who ran for the Democrat nomination against Biden in 2020, told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday: “If you believe in democracy, you want to see more people vote, not fewer people vote, I think the choice is pretty clear, and that choice is Biden.”

But Sanders leaned on Biden to be stronger on working-class issues, and urged the president and the party “to make it clear that we believe in a government that represents all, not just the few; take on the greed of the insurance companies, the drug companies, Wall Street, all the big money interests; and start delivering for working-class people.”

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