AOC Blames Moderates for Virginia Loss, Says Progressives 'Weren't Really Even Invited'

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, took aim at moderates within her political party for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe's loss in Virginia this week.

Moderate Democrats have blamed progressives for Republican Glenn Youngkin's upset victory in the state. But Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent progressive who identifies as a democratic socialist, pushed back against that assessment, arguing that her wing of the Democratic Party was not invited to back McAuliffe's campaign.

"On the election front, I actually think we have good news as well," she said in an Instagram video uploaded on Wednesday. "I know that Virginia was a huge bummer. And honestly, if anything, I think the results show the limits of trying to run a fully 100 percent super moderated campaign that does not excite, speak to or energize a progressive base."

Ocasio-Cortez added, "Frankly, we weren't even really invited to contribute on that race."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says her wing of the Democratic Party was not invited to back Terry McAuliffe's campaign for governor in Virginia. Above, the New York Democrat speaks during a news conference on October 26 in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Youngkin defeated McAuliffe, a former Virginia, governor, by a margin of 2.5 points. Youngkin was backed by 50.9 percent of Virginia's voters, while McAuliffe was supported by just 48.4 percent, with more than 95 percent of ballot results reported.

That upset victory for Republicans came after President Joe Biden carried the state by a 10-point margin against former President Donald Trump a year ago. Republicans had not managed to win a statewide race in Virginia for more than a decade.

Prominent Democrats—including Biden, former President Barack Obama, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Democratic activist Stacey Abramscampaigned for McAuliffe in Virginia. But top progressives—such as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Ocasio-Cortez—did not travel to the state to support the Democratic candidate.

Ahead of the election, Sanders said the election results would come down to the substance of the campaign. "I think at the end of the day, what happens in Virginia is what the candidate stands for, the nature of the campaign, the degree to which the candidate is resonating with the people," he told Politico.

Progressive Democrats have largely failed to defeat moderates in multiple closely watched elections recently. New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams defeated his progressive opponents in the primaries this week, while Representative-elect Shontel Brown beat prominent progressive Nina Turner in Ohio. In Buffalo, New York moderate Mayor Byron Brown has declared victory after he appears to have maintained his office through a write-in campaign against progressive challenger India Walton.

Meanwhile, moderates are targeting progressives. They have argued that the nation as a whole is not as far to the left as a sizable faction of the Democratic Party believes.

"We can't go too far left. This is not a center-left or a left country. We are a center—if anything, center-right—country," Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia moderate Democrat, told CNN on Thursday.

Newsweek reached out to McAuliffe's campaign for comment but did not hear back before publication.