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Senator AOC: How Does That Sound?

AOC screenshot from 2020 Democratic National Convention in 2020.
AOC screenshot from 2020 Democratic National Convention in 2020.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or AOC appears to have a “never say never” attitude about possibly launching a primary challenge against New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

AOC: Running for Senate? 

The co-founder of the group of socialists labeled by former President Donald Trump as “The Squad” told Politico she was open to the idea of running for higher office.

“There’s a world where I’m here for a long time in this seat, in this position. There’s a world where I’m not an elected official anymore. There’s a world where … I may be in higher office,” AOC said.

When asked specifically about running a primary challenge next year she laughed “don’t ask me that question … print that.”

She has evolved from an insurgent member of the Marxist Democratic Socialists of America into a mainstream force to be reckoned with inside the Democratic Party over a short four-year period since 2019

Former New York Gov. David Patterson appointed Gillibrand to her seat in 2009 following then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s appointment as secretary of state in the Obama administration. She won two consecutive terms in 2012 and 2018 and waged an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

Gillibrand announced she would seek a third term in January. 

“If she ran for Senate, the fundraising that would come in from all around the country would easily make her competitive,” Ryan Adams, a Democratic consultant, told the New York Post in January, talking about Ocasio-Cortez. “And nobody campaigns like her. Everyone would come out.”

Adams continued: “The apparatus that would spring up around her would be unstoppable. People would fly in from other states to volunteer with her.”

Former Rep. Lee Zeldin, who ran a competitive race for New York governor last fall, agreed with Adams, telling Fox News that “she would be able to raise a lot of money and a lot of the Democratic Party primary base is in New York City.”

“Kirsten Gillibrand is not from New York City. The Democratic Party not only has that far-Left base. They have certain minority constituencies that AOC might do a better job penetrating in a Democratic Party primary,” Zeldin said, saying he thinks ACO could win.

The incumbent has a reputation as a lackluster senator without any real accomplishments, in contrast with her fellow New York senator, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. 

Gillibrand’s team is confident that she would survive a challenge.

“From making gun trafficking a federal crime to securing health benefits for 9/11 survivors and our veterans to bringing home millions of dollars to boost the economy, Senator Gillibrand has delivered for the people of New York. She’s confident New Yorkers will re-elect her,” Evan Lukaske told the New York Post.

Ocasio-Cortez’s left-wing stances such as defunding the police, opposing Israel, and stopping the second Amazon headquarters in Queens could be among her vulnerabilities. 

Zeldin hinted that he could face off against AOC or Gillibrand next year.

“If she were to win a primary, I think [Ocasio-Cortez] is a more deeply flawed general election opponent, and so I think the race is shifting in the Republicans favor if AOC gets into the race,” Zeldin said. 

MORE: Is AOC a Sellout? 

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Written By

John Rossomando is a senior analyst for Defense Policy and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics,, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator,, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award in 2008 for his reporting.