Why an AOC presidential run isn’t 'out of the question': journalist
Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez speak about the importance of a Green New Deal at a town hall organized by the Sunrise Movement. (Rachael Warriner / Shutterstock.com)

On Friday, July 22, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont tweeted his endorsement of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is seeking a third term to the U.S. House of Representatives; if the Democratic congresswoman receives her party’s nomination, she will go up against a Republican nominee in the general election. It remains to be seen how much of a red wave the United States will see in the 2022 midterms, but one Democrat who stands a very good chance of being reelected is AOC. Her district, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens, is overwhelmingly Democratic — and she is quite popular amongst the left wing of her party.

AOC has toyed with the idea of a primary challenge to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a fellow New Yorker — inspiring Democratic strategists to wonder how well she would perform in a statewide race. The progressive congresswoman has demonstrated that she is quite capable of enjoying a landslide victory in New York’s 14th Congressional District, but unlike Schumer, she has never competed in a race where she would also be campaigning everywhere from Albany to Saratoga Springs to Buffalo to Rochester to Schenectady.

In an article published by The Hill on July 29, journalist Niall Stanage goes a step further and toys with the idea of Ocasio-Cortez running a national race and seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2024 if President Joe Biden decides against running for reelection.

“As President Biden’s approval ratings sink and polls show many Democratic voters would prefer a different nominee in 2024, some activists are beginning to entertain longshot options,” Stanage explains. “When it comes to unlikely-but-not-impossible scenarios, one is far more intriguing than any other: a presidential bid by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).”

AOC, born in New York City on October 13, 1989, is now 32, which is too young to run for president. The U.S. Constitution mandates that a president must be at least 35, and the youngest president in U.S. history, John F. Kennedy, was 43 when he defeated Richard Nixon in 1960’s presidential election. But Ocasio-Cortez will turn 35 in 2024 and would be old enough to be sworn in as president on January 20, 2025.

“An Ocasio-Cortez campaign would electrify her fans and detractors alike,” Stanage observes. “Right now, the Beltway consensus is that it’s out of the question. But is it? Ocasio-Cortez has conspicuously declined to commit to endorsing Biden for a second term. In a CNN interview last month, she told Dana Bash, ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.’”

Stanage continues, “The New York congresswoman, who shot to fame in 2018 when she defeated then-Rep. Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary, is already a fundraising juggernaut. She could easily raise the funds to run a competitive campaign. She also has an enormous social media following — more than 13 million followers on Twitter alone.”

Ocasio-Cortez is routinely lambasted on right-wing media outlets such as Fox News and Fox Business, which paint her as way out of the mainstream. But truth be told, AOC’s views aren’t that far to the left; mainstream media outlets in West European countries typically describe her a liberal, but not far-left. And Fox News pundits are often criticized for living in a bubble and only interacting with fellow Republicans.

“Earlier this week,” Stanage observes, “a University of New Hampshire poll asked Democratic voters in the Granite State who would be their first choice as a 2024 presidential nominee, including Biden as an option. The headlines went to (Transportation Secretary Pete) Buttigieg, who edged out Biden by a single point at the top of the poll. But Ocasio-Cortez was again competitive with contenders who are taken far more seriously. She trailed Harris by only a single percentage point.”

Stanage goes on to lay out some reasons why a presidential run by Ocasio-Cortez “shouldn’t be written off.”

“First: Yes, she is old enough to run,” Stanage writes. “The minimum age to be president is 35. Ocasio-Cortez will celebrate her 35th birthday roughly three weeks before Election Day 2024. The second is that she has long leveled a broad critique of the Democratic Party leadership in Washington — in summary, that it is too cozy with rich, powerful interests and not responsive enough to the needs of its own voters.”