Rumors of behind-the-scenes tension between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the far-left wing of her party have swirled in recent years — and recent reports are only fanning the flames.
This week, the star Democrats’ differences of opinion were on clear display when Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) publicly disagreed on which candidate should represent a Democratic-led New York district.
“Renewed and revitalized leadership”
According to NBC News, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) is currently facing a primary challenge from Jamaal Bowman, a more progressive candidate favored by Ocasio-Cortez.
“This moment requires renewed and revitalized leadership across the country AND at the ballot box,” AOC said when announcing her endorsement of Engel’s challenger, according to NBC.
Ocasio-Cortez went on to describe Bowman as “a profound community leader” — but Pelosi made it clear that she believes the incumbent would be better for the district and the Democratic Party.
“I firmly support Eliot Engel for Congress and I support Alexandria for Congress as well,” the House speaker said on Thursday, according to Politico. “I think the people of New York are very blessed to have them both in Congress.”
She went on to cite his “unique privilege” as the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
“That wouldn’t happen again — that’s a lot of power,” Pelosi concluded.
“That’s a lot of power”
Engel also received the backing of others in the party, including Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY).
“I think Mr. Engel should be judged on his record, which has been stellar,” Meeks said, according to Politico. “He’s the chair of the foreign affairs committee, which has been substantial. Ultimately, I believe that’s what people are going to look at.”
Meeks’ comments came after Engel was caught on tape saying that he “wouldn’t care” if he addressed a crowd of protesters if he were not running for re-election. He later stressed that the comments were taken out of context.
This is hardly the first time Pelosi has clashed with Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives, including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). Before the Democratic Party begins counting its electoral victories ahead of Election Day, its leaders might want to define a unifying message — if they have one.