AOC blasts Democrats who don’t unify behind the party’s nominees as ‘playing a dangerous game’ in the face of a ‘fascist threat’

AOC India Walton
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, right, greets Buffalo Democratic mayoral nominee India Walton, left, during a rally in support of Walton in Buffalo, New York, on October 23, 2021. AP Photo/Joshua Bessex
  • Rep. Ocasio-Cortez stumped for Buffalo Democratic mayoral nominee India Walton at a Saturday rally.
  • In a speech, AOC reiterated the importance of supporting party nominees in their respective races.
  • “Let’s talk about the stakes. This isn’t a game,” Ocasio-Cortez said of a “fascist” threat.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday criticized Democratic leaders who decline to endorse more liberal candidates within the party, calling out the holdouts for “playing a dangerous game with our democracy.”

While speaking at a rally in support of India Walton, the Democratic mayoral nominee in Buffalo who won an upset primary victory over longtime Mayor Byron Brown in June, the Bronx native said that a refusal to endorse party nominees is deeply problematic amid what she describes as a “fascist threat” in US politics.

“Here’s the deal. There are many primaries where I have stood behind incredible community organizers, and you know what? That moment may not have been the time. That’s ok. We get up and we move on,” she said.

“But when a nominee wins, I do not try to undermine the entire political party. We don’t try to do that. Do you know why? Because in the grander scheme of things, we are facing a very real fascist threat in this country. Let’s talk about the stakes. This isn’t a game,” she added.

In her speech, Ocasio-Cortez reiterated a distaste for intraparty divisions.

“We rally behind our nominee,” she said. “That is what we do, whether that candidate is you or the person you’re going for, or the person you’re not going for. Any Democrat right now that is trying to establish a precedent of not uniting behind the party’s nominee is playing a dangerous game with our democracy.”

She emphasized: “I want to send a very direct message to some of those folks. If you as a Democratic elected official try to go out and undermine your party’s nominee, how can you ever turn around and ask people to support you when you’re the party’s nominee?”

Ocasio-Cortez traveled Upstate to stump for Walton, a self-described socialist who is still facing a challenge from Brown, who successfully launched a write-in campaign and could siphon off voters that she would naturally receive as the Democratic nominee of the diverse post-industrial city.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a native of the Buffalo area, has declined to endorse a candidate, citing the “unique” nature of two Democrats running in the same race.

“With respect to Buffalo, we have a unique situation there,” she said during a COVID-19 briefing last week. “I’m going to be looking forward to truly working hard, rolling my sleeves up, with whoever … emerges as the victor. Buffalo’s success is important to me personally.”

While some of Walton’s supporters have argued that party leaders like Hochul should endorse the nominees chosen by Democratic voters, she recently received a key endorsement.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Brooklyn native and one of the most powerful politicians in the country, on Thursday endorsed Walton, praising her activism and emphasizing unity within the party.

“Today, I endorse @indiawaltonbflo, the Democratic nominee for Mayor of Buffalo,” he tweeted. “She’s a community leader, nurse, & mother with a clear progressive vision for her hometown. Dems are at our best when we build a big tent & forge inclusive coalitions to fight for everyday people.”

Last week, a range of political figures, including Ocasio-Cortez and Schumer, criticized a statement made by New York State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs to Spectrum News 1 where he said that the winner of the primary is not guaranteed a party endorsement, offering an example of the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke winning a primary.

“Jay Jacobs absolutely should resign over his disgusting comments comparing a Black single mother who won a historic election to David Duke,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

Schumer released a statement saying, “The statement was totally unacceptable and the analogy used was outrageous and beyond absurd.”

Jacobs later apologized for his remarks.