by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Green New Deal has high-profile backers in Congress, but several incumbent Democrats are keeping their distance from the proposal left-wing supporters say would address climate change and economic inequality.
The nonbinding resolution, championed by New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would pair a transition to 100% clean, renewable energy with economic and social programs, such as a federal jobs guarantee and universal healthcare. Its goals have become a litmus test for Democrats courting liberal voters as they seek the 2020 presidential nomination.
But candidates running in the party’s primaries for spots further down the ballot and against Republicans in November 2020 are grappling with the often-poisonous politics of the proposed framework.
Democratic Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, who represents a slither of the state from San Antonio’s suburbs to the Rio Grande, won his 2018 primary race with almost 85% of the vote. But in recent weeks, the self-described “moderate-centrist,” Democrat, first elected to the House in 2004, has upped his criticism of the Green New Deal. Cuellar, 64, faces a 2020 primary challenge from attorney Jessica Cisneros, who is running with support from Justice Democrats, the same liberal political action committee that backed Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise primary win last cycle against a member of the House Democratic leadership.