Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez plans to primary United States Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in the 2022 Democratic Party Primary contest — during which, she intends to endorse statehood for upstate and Western New York, a source familiar with her thinking tells The Chronicle.
For Ocasio-Cortez, the calculation is easy.
The Bronx-based progressive would defeat Schumer with large margins in the five boroughs of New York City, operatives postulate. It’s thought that Schumer might break even in the downstate suburbs.
Endorsing statehood could make Ocasio-Cortez an upstate favorite overnight, appealing to those Democrats whom Schumer would need to turn out in large numbers to retain competitive in the primary.
When upstate statehood happens, Ocasio-Cortez would enjoy an even more strongly Democrat-enrolled Senate seat.
“Imagine AOC looking at Schumer and saying, ‘you put statehood for DC before statehood for upstate New York? How could you betray us like that,” the operative posits.
“If AOC can come at Schumer from the left and the right at the same time, he wouldn’t know what to do,” he adds.
Statehood for upstate New York would create two competitive ‘swing seats’ in the United States Senate. It would also give progressives two solidly left-leaning Senate seats based around New York City, which leaders in the African American community see as ripe for the taking.
It’s thought that the junior Senator from New York, Kirstin Gillibrand, backs statehood for upstate New York and likely prefers a more centrist constituency.
Schumer might preempt Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement by including upstate statehood as an amendment to his DC statehood bill, which is currently pending in the Senate.