Schumer, 70, became majority leader when the Democratic Party gained a majority in the Senate in January and is up for reelection in 2022. He had previously served as Senate minority leader from 2017 to 2021.
When asked by CNN’s Dana Bash if she’s considering launching a primary bid for his seat, the two-term congresswoman didn’t rule out the option.
“I know it drives everybody nuts, but the way that I really feel about this and the way that I really approach my politics and my political career is that I do not look at things and I do not set my course positionally,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN during a late June interview.
“And I know there’s a lot of people who do not believe that, but I really, I can’t operate the way that I operate and do the things that I do in politics while trying to be, aspiring to other things or calculating to other things.
“For what it’s worth, Senator Schumer and I have been working very closely on a lot of legislation and that, to me, is important. And so, we shall see.”
The lawmaker representing the Bronx previously told Punchbowl News in January that she hadn’t yet made up her mind about whether she would challenge Schumer in 2022.
“I’m a no [expletive] kind of person. I’m not playing coy or anything like that,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“I’m still very much in a place where I’m trying to decide what is the most effective thing I can do to help our Congress, our [political] process, and our country actually address the issues of climate change, health care, wage inequality, etc.”
And when asked at the time whether she believed Schumer was going a good job, she said: “It’s a hard thing to say, too. We’ve had to deal with a fascist president and Mitch McConnell.”
Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview with The Intercept in December 2020 that she believes the Democratic Party needs new leadership and that it’s time for Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to step aside, but there’s no one ready to replace them.
“I think one of the things that I have struggled with, I think that a lot of people struggle with, is the internal dynamics of the House has made it such that there [are] very little options [sic] for succession,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept, noting that the lack of opportunities pushes the “really talented members” to leave Washington or run for non-congressional offices.
However, the lawmaker has concretely said that she wouldn’t run for speaker, a position she describes as “extraordinarily complex.”
“It can’t be me,” she told The Intercept. “I know that I couldn’t do that job.”