State Sen. Ramos slams fellow Democrat AOC on Twitter
NEW YORK - State Sen. Jessica Ramos took to Twitter to criticize Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—a fellow Democrat—for being absent from her district. But a campaign spokesperson for the congresswoman says they reached out to the senator just recently to set up a meeting and were turned down.
It started when a medical student, who uses the Twitter handle @jai_lies, took to Twitter to claim that Ocasio-Cortez's staff blew off a meeting with two health policy experts. AOC's staff say they have not yet been able to find a record of this meeting.
But AOC quickly responded tweeting "I'm really sorry to hear that this happened. It's not representative of me nor my values. If you can connect with details I'd appreciate it. I'll follow so DMs will be open."
That's when things took a turn.
Ramos then jumped into the conversation to say, "Maybe if you spent more time in your office and with your team you'd know what goes on. Just saying it would be nice if you breathed our air."
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A similar criticism that AOC once used against Rep. Joe Crowley before AOC beat him in the 2018 primary.
"It's Senator Ramos basically putting a stake in the ground and saying this is how I'm going to categorize AOC and her staff and that that is sending a message, a very public one, to both her supporters and to the media," Basil Smikle, director of the Public Policy at Hunter College and former executive director of the New York Democratic Party.
Both Ramos and AOC beat out two establishment Democrats in 2018 and after came together to promote progressive ideologies, although recently there have been some disagreements on certain policy items. Their districts overlap in parts of Queens.
A well-known New York City housing activist also took to Twitter to back up claims that AOC can be hard to reach.
"I have reached out to her office multiple times about housing voucher discrimination in her district — to no avail," Aaron Carr, director of Housing Rights Initiative, tweeted. "Last year, we filed a major lawsuit against a # of companies that do business in her district on behalf of tenants of color/homeless people."
Ramos also tweeted, "I have not spoken to my congressperson in months. Maybe more than a year? What else is it I'm supposed to do?"
But Smikle said with the magnitude of AOC's influence, some local officials might always feel left out.
"There are a lot of people who would want their leaders to be more local and more accessible, but she really has taken on a position of national leadership," Smikle said. "That popularity helps her deliver for her home."
A spokesperson for AOC pushed back on Ramos's claims that AOC is absent from her district, saying that AOC held an outreach meeting in Jackson Heights as recently as July 6 and has held 6 town halls so far this year.
The senator and the congresswoman also just recently saw each other at a May Day rally and a few weeks prior at a petitioning event in Astoria.
The spokesperson for AOC said they offered the Senator a meeting with the Congresswoman in April, but the Senator was unavailable that day.
Ramos' colleagues in the Senate also took to Twitter in support of AOC, with Sen. Jabari Brisport even tweeting out a picture of Ramos campaigning with AOC back in March.
"Maybe she is gearing up for a primary challenge against AOC or feeling some pressure from DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) members, to which AOC belongs to, challenge her in a primary," Smikle says. "So one way or another I think she's trying to set herself up to make sure that she has a relatively safe seat."
Ramos did say on Twitter that she is not planning to challenge AOC in a primary.
Ramos did not return a request for comment.