Why on Tuesday should you make the top Senate Democrat very nervous?

That’s why the New York senator has to look at the (still pending) results of Tuesday’s Democratic primaries at the Empire State Building with real concern as he looks toward his 2022 re-election race.

This is why.

1) Rep Eliot Engel follows Jamaal Bowman, a first-time Liberal candidate in District 16.

3) Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez crushed a well-funded challenge from former cable TV presenter Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.
4) In New York’s 15th and 17th districts, both strongly Democratic seats where the incumbent did not run for another term, the more liberal candidate prevailed. Both are also gay black men and would make history in that regard if, as expected, they were elected in November.
(Side note: Due to coronavirus, thousands of ballots were issued in absentia. They will be counted on June 30 and could affect results.)
The New York Times wrote of the results:

“The first returns seemed to confirm that the liberal wave that elected Ms. Ocasio-Cortez for Congress in 2018 has continued to build momentum.”

“Ms Ocasio-Cortez had faced a primary challenge herself, but she easily brushed it aside, even when like-minded candidates, encompassing her call for a New Green Deal and Medicaid for All, among other policies , showed electoral strength. “

So is. But as Jonathan Martin of the Times noted on Twitter, what happened on Tuesday goes far beyond Tuesday.

“The success of @AOC, @AyannaPressley, @JamaalBowmanNY, the strength of @ Booker4KY and the failure of @BernieSanders presents the left playbook for ’21, ’22 and ’24,” he wrote on Twitter. ” [People of color] Those who can form multiracial coalitions offer the best opportunity to overthrow the Dem establishment. “Martin added:

“The [question] Now is not if, but who in the Senate D caucus that the left tries to undo in ’22 [with] the same case AOC, Bowman and especially [Massachusetts Rep. Ayana Pressley] done. That’s why the most interesting story in ’21 could be how Schumer, if [Democrats] he has a majority, he directs the Senate. “


In fact, the most obvious target for this type of primary fight in the 2022 Senate Democratic class is Schumer himself. While he has done little to make himself vulnerable (ended March with nearly $ 10 million in the bank), Schumer is, by virtue of his leadership position in the Senate and the fact that he has been in a federally elected position since 1980, a walking and breathing symbol of the political establishment.

Which, in a vacuum, would not be the world’s biggest political problem for Schumer. But we, and he, do not live in a vacuum. And because we don’t, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exists. And that is a major potential problem for Schumer.

Ocasio-Cortez, since upsetting Joe Crowley, a member of the Democratic leadership disputed as the next possible Speaker of the House, in 2018, has become a massive political star. She, perhaps more than anyone else in the party (including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) has become the face of straightforward liberalism.

She has already raised over $ 10 million in this election and spent over $ 6 million. According to an analysis by The Hill, she has nearly 40 campaign employees on the payroll. As Gabby Birenbaum of The Hill writes:

“His spending hints that Ocasio-Cortez is working to build an even stronger fundraising operation. He has spent nearly $ 1.2 million on Facebook ads targeting viewers across the country, ads that are likely intended to recruit more donors. And he has spent half a million dollars renting email lists and advertising at a Washington-based consulting firm. “

And AOC has intentionally refused to discount a challenge to Schumer in 2022. “I don’t know,” he recently said of the possibility of a main offering. “Honestly, this news cycle is so crazy that it knows where any of us are going to be in 2022.”

For those who discount her chances if she ran against Schumer, Tuesday’s vote in New York should cure them of their doubts. Engel, who has been in office since 1988, is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Maloney is the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. That institutional weight in Washington did not isolate them from any of the serious challenges of their ideological left and, in fact, may have provided fuel to their challengers who argued that the headlines had forgotten about the people they were sent to represent.

Now Schumer is not Engel or Maloney. It won’t surprise you. It probably won’t be overspent. And it won’t fall without a massive fight, if that’s about it.

But he is also the leader of the Senate Democrats. And that could mean negotiating compromises that the left doesn’t love between now and the summer of 2022. Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez remains increasingly strong and powerful as a political force.

Look at this space.