A Major Progressive Group That Backed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Endorsing Another Young Woman Trying To Take Down A Top Democrat – BuzzFeed News

A Major Progressive Group That Backed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Endorsing Another Young Woman Trying To Take Down A Top Democrat - BuzzFeed News

AOC: We are breaking up the Green New Deal

Brand New Congress is endorsing Mckayla Wilkes, the 29-year-old progressive challenging House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in 2020.

WASHINGTON — Brand New Congress, one of the groups that helped catapult Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to victory in her insurgent campaign last year, is endorsing Mckayla Wilkes, a 29-year-old Maryland student challenging House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, one of the most powerful Democrats in the country, the campaign and the organization told BuzzFeed News exclusively.

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The addition of Wilkes to the groups slate of candidates on Tuesday makes Hoyer the highest-ranking Democrat against whom Brand New Congress has endorsed this cycle.

Mckayla really embodies what it means to be reflective of the diversity of her district, of the different kinds of experiences that an individual faces, Brand New Congress press director Zeynab Day said in an interview with BuzzFeed News this week. She has lived through hardship. She understands struggle … [and] she also understands policy in terms of how those struggles relate to policy.

Wilkes has been open about her unique path to politics as her campaign against Hoyer has taken off; in ads, on social media, and in interviews, she has talked openly about having a criminal record and having gotten an abortion at age 19.

I just dont want any secrets, she told BuzzFeed News in June. I want everything to be out there. Its not like Im the only person who goes through these things.

In another interview last week ahead of Brand New Congresss endorsement, Wilkes said she sees her experience as an advantage to her campaign and, potentially, her eventual lawmaking.

I think that having people with lived experiences who can turn those lived experiences into legislation and can lead from their experience is so important, she said. The thing about having people from the working class in Congress is having people who have firsthand experience with how legislation affects us. Its having people lead from the inside out instead of the outside in.

Its a major contrast with Hoyer, who has been in Congress for nearly 40 years, both Day and Wilkes said.

Brand New Congress will help fundraise for Wilkes and the rest of its slate of candidates, raise her profile nationally, and connect the campaign with other progressive candidates running across the country.

This is the only thing that we were missing, Wilkes said of Brand New Congresss endorsement. We have everything else. [I said,] If we can just get a group like Brand New Congress just to back us, just to have that extra push of support. Now we can do anything.

Part of why Brand New Congress saw Wilkes as a good fit to join its slate of candidates, Day told BuzzFeed News, was because Wilkes has sworn off any corporate PAC money.

Steny Hoyer has taken a lot of money from corporate PACs, Day said, adding that Hoyer also hasnt endorsed a slew of progressive policies that Wilkes has, including Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Hes taking the middle-of-the-road, lukewarm political approach.

In a statement shared with BuzzFeed News earlier this summer when Wilkes criticized Hoyers donations, the majority leaders campaign said, It is Congressman Hoyers policy to accept legal contributions and to pursue the policies he believes are in the best interests of our country and his district irrespective of such contributions.

So far, Wilkes has raised about $70,000 since launching her campaign in June. In August, she said, the campaign set a goal to knock on 1,000 doors in the district, and ended up sailing past the goal, canvassing nearly 2,000 homes last month. (Hoyer, for his part, raised about $652,000 in the first quarter of this year. Just $185 of that was from people donating less than $200, a standard measure of grassroots donations, according to Roll Call.)

Justice Democrats, the other high-profile group that backed Ocasio-Cortez and other Democratic challengers in 2018, told BuzzFeed News in June that they have talked to Wilkes but have not made a decision about endorsing in the race.

In addition to backing Wilkes, Brand New Congress is backing Cori Bush against Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay in Missouri and Paula Jean Swearengin against Sen. Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia.

Addy Baird is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. Contact this reporter at [email protected]

One of the things I think is really exciting,” said the first-term New York Democrat, is that “the legislation that we are planning on introducing is not one broad sweeping piece of legislation.

The liberal Democrat said lawmakers are at work on different pieces of legislation derived from the Green New Deal, which calls for eliminating carbon emissions in the United States in 10 years.

Ocasio-Cortez said she plans to introduce a bill this month aimed at transitioning the U.S. to carbon-neutral buildings, which she called a Green New Deal housing plan.

The Green New Deal calls for providing “safe, adequate housing for everyone and the complete transition away from gasoline-powered cars.

We are really excited about it, Ocasio-Cortez said. Thats going to be dropping this month, and its going to be really a focus on buildings, which is one of the three major industries we have to focus on when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.

Ocasio-Cortez introduced the Green New Deal as a resolution in February, but it is unlikely to get a floor vote because it is so broad and would require a drastic overhaul of the U.S. economy. The original text associated with the resolution suggested ending air travel and eliminating methane-producing cows, although Ocasio-Cortez said the text was published in error.

Many Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed the Green New Deal in principle, but when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought the resolution up for a vote, most Democrats voted present.


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