U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., left, joined at right by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., responds to base remarks by President Donald Trump after he called for four Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to their “broken” countries, as he exploited the nation’s glaring racial divisions once again for political gain, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2019. All four congresswomen are American citizens and three of the four were born in the U.S. Omar is the first Somali-American in Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
This is an under-appreciated story, understandably so given the dramatic rise of Joe Biden after he was once left for dead. Yet, it’s an important one.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and the rest of the “squad” may want to re-think their strategy to remake the Democratic party because it pretty much face-planted last night. The most obvious example is Bernie Sanders well underperforming expectations and giving up a primary lead that most thought he wouldn’t relinquish.
In the case of Ilhan Omar, she went all out for Bernie Sanders in her home state of Minnesota. In fact, it was widely projected he’d win there, especially after Klobuchar dropped out. The most recent polling had shown Sanders with a slight lead. It’s also the kind of state that you’d expect the “Democratic Socialist” message to play well given its large congregation of blue-collar jobs, immigrants (namely Somali), and union workers.
But then it didn’t.
Omar, after stumping for Bernie the past several days, helped deliver one of his more surprising defeats, with working-class people in the suburbs running in horror. Apparently “Democratic Socialism” doesn’t play very well outside of the wokest of circles.
Then there’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has tried to position herself and a king-maker by endorsing primary challengers to incumbent Democrats. How’s that going? Not very well.
This went final over night in a 52-48 margin:
South Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar defeats Jessica Cisneros, progressive challenger backed by Warren and AOChttps://t.co/w3ipBxuyMI
— Tom Benning (@tombenning) March 4, 2020
That was supposed to be a race she could flip and it didn’t happen. Cuellar is a “conservative” Democrat and faced the full brunt of the progressive machine at the hands of AOC. Cisneros also got the full mainstream media treatment, including a fluff spread in Politico. Despite that, Cuellar managed to fend off his challenger and will now likely retain his seat come November.
It seems both AOC and Omar have severely overrated their own prominence. Their shtick may play in liberal bastions, where, as Nancy Pelosi once said, a glass of water with a D by its name could win. It seems to play much less well in the rest of the country.
Ironically, Sanders may have actually hurt his campaign and handed Biden new life by so closely embracing these women the last month. But, I wouldn’t count their influence out just yet. There’s no doubt that, as the Democratic party continues its surge leftward, “Democratic Socialism” will gain steam. All it appears we’ve done is postpone the battle.