Last month, a Fox News reporter trumpeted a “SCOOP” on Twitter — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was “withholding” $250,000 in dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Ocasio-Cortez confirmed the report: “DCCC made clear that they will blacklist any org that helps progressive candidates like me. I can choose not to fund that kind of exclusion,” she wrote. The following day, she announced the creation of a new PAC to support progressive candidates.
On Friday, Ocasio-Cortez announced the first seven candidates who will benefit from her fundraising firepower: They are all progressives, they are all women, most are women of color, two are targeting Ocasio-Cortez’s Democratic colleagues in the House.
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez is running for Senate in Texas against the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee-endorsed candidate, MJ Hegar — both are hoping to unseat Republican Sen. John Cornyn. Teresa Leger Fernandez in New Mexico, Samelys López in New York, Georgette Gómez in California, and Kara Eastman in Nebraska are each competing for House seats that are either vacant or held by a Republican incumbent.
Two other beneficiaries of Ocasio-Cortez’s support, Marie Newman and Jessica Cisnero, are targeting elected Democrats — Rep. Daniel Lipinski, an anti-choice congressman from Illinois, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, a pro-gun congressman from Texas, respectively.
The PAC’s first fundraising pitch calls out the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee directly. “When community leaders, activists, and working-class candidates try to run for office, organizations like the DCCC discourage them. These potential progressive leaders are asked: ‘Can you raise $300,000 from your friends and family? If not, don’t bother trying.’ ”
It goes on to characterize congressional Democrats’ chief fundraising arm as engaged in “a structural effort to keep people like Alexandria, and people like you, out of power.”
The organization will give the maximum to support each candidate in the primary — $5,000. But it’s already raised enough to support 10 times as many progressive candidates: In a little more than a month, the PAC raised over $340,267, according to Corbin Trent, an adviser to Ocasio-Cortez’s re-election campaign.
“She’s working to build an infrastructure that ensures progressives get to the table in the House and the Senate,” Trent said. To that end, the PAC is providing more than just cash — it will help with email and social media fundraising, and helping recruit volunteers.
“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 said in an interview with The New York Times Friday. “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.”
“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.”