Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday announced her first endorsement of a 2020 congressional primary challenger over a Democratic incumbent, throwing her high-profile support behind Marie Newman’s bid to unseat Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois.
Newman, who is backed by Justice Democrats, the progressive group that helped elect Ocasio-Cortez in 2018, challenged conservative-leaning Lipinski for Illinois’s 3rd Congressional District seat last year, but lost by about 2,000 votes. The eight-term House member is one of the few Democrats with a record of opposing abortion rights and discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
“Marie Newman is a textbook example of one of the ways that we could be better as a party — to come from a deep blue seat and to be championing all the issues we need to be championing,” Ocasio-Cortez told The New York Times.
Newman, a former advertising executive turned nonprofit founder, has also nabbed key endorsements from two presidential candidates: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
She said in a statement Tuesday that she’s “thrilled” to receive Ocasio-Cortez’s support and hopes to work with her in Congress on policies focused on social, climate and economic justice issues.
“I’ve watched my community grow and progress and [Lipinksi] fall behind,” Newman tweeted in response to Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement. “This is about electing someone who knows this district, who will fight for bold progressive policies that will make life more affordable for everyone.”
Justice Democrats has taken aim at several Democratic incumbents in the 2020 congressional elections, hoping to replace them with progressive-leaning candidates, including immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros in Texas and former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau adviser Morgan Harper in Ohio.
Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement follows the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s push to protect House Democrats from primary challengers. The group implemented a controversial policy earlier this year that cuts off business with vendors who work with candidates who are mounting primary challenges.
The DCCC did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
“The momentum is growing in our movement to make the Democratic Party fight for solutions as big as the problems we face and create a party that fights for its voters, not corporate donors,” Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, said in a statement.