Ocasio-Cortez For House Speaker? ‘I Don’t Want to Bite Off More Than I Can Chew’

By Patrick Goodenough | November 8, 2018 | 4:23 AM EST

At 29, New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be the youngest ever member of Congress when she takes her seat next year. (Screen capture: DemocracyNow!)

(Note: This story refers below to Andy Kim of New Jersey and Anthony Brindisi of New York as incoming House Democrats. However in both races their GOP opponents have yet to concede.)

(CNSNews.com) – Democrat socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was still celebrating her victory in New York’s 14th Congressional District Tuesday night when she was asked her thoughts on becoming speaker in the Democratic-controlled House.

The 29-year-old laughed, and told Amy Goodman of the left-wing news program Democracy Now, “I mean, I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew.”

Goodman had asked Ocasio-Cortez her stance on Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) returning as House speaker.

“Who do you think needs to lead the House?,” she asked. “And would you consider the possibility of being the speaker … yourself?”

“I mean, I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew,” Ocasio-Cortez laughed. “I just won my seat.”

“But, you know, what I do think is that in terms of her leadership in context, we need to see what our options are,” she continued. “You know, my fear is, I just wouldn’t want to see candidates running to her right, and that being our only option.”

Ocasio-Cortez indicated that priorities for her when it comes to Democratic House leadership include Medicare for all, tuition-free college, and a “living wage.”

“And that’s what I’m going to be looking for in terms of where we want to select our next speaker,” she said. “And I know that I certainly don’t want to support anyone who doesn’t have those missions in mind.”

On the election outcome more generally, Ocasio-Cortez described the Democrats’ taking control of the House as “a very, very powerful check on the authoritarian creep that this administration has been pursuing.”

“And we need to be powerful about it. We need to take this opportunity. This is not the time to negotiate with an administration that systematically and repeatedly violates human rights,” she said. “This is a time for us to have a strong response and to really command the power that we secured tonight.”

Ocasio-Cortez last June defeated ten-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in a primary, and on Tuesday she beat Republican Anthony Pappas to win the Queens/Bronx district seat with 78 percent of the vote. When she takes her seat she will be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

After her primary win, she told MSNBC that she thought Pelosi was “a candidate to consider” for House speaker, but stopped short of endorsing her.

“Let me win the election first in November before I make commitments,” she said. “When it comes to the leadership of the party, that’s a conversation that I’ll have once I’m an elected member of Congress.”

Ocasio-Cortez said she had spoken to Pelosi after her primary victory “and she was incredibly kind.”

“She said that she loved working with Joe [Crowley] but that she’s actually always wanted younger women in Congress, and that men tend to run at younger ages and women tend to run at older ages, and that she’s actually very happy to see, you know, some new blood.”

A number of youngish incoming Democratic House members are on the record as saying they would not support Pelosi for speaker.

They include Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.), Andy Kim (N.J.), Jason Crow (Colo.), Elissa Slotkin (Mich.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) – who, like Ocasio-Cortez, is a member of Democratic Socialists of America.

Pelosi would need the support of 218 members to win the speakership.

As of early Thursday, the Democrats were holding 223 seats, the Republicans 197, with 15 seats yet to be declared.


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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow