As the midterms approach, the fracture within the Democratic Party between centrist and progressive candidates is gaining splinters.
After avoiding wading into this year’s primaries, former President Barack Obama announced his first wave of endorsements for Democratic candidates over Twitter.
“I’m confident that, together, they’ll strengthen this country we love by restoring opportunity, repairing our alliances and standing in the world, and upholding our fundamental commitment to justice, fairness, responsibility, and the rule of law,” said the former president of his selections. “But first, they need our votes.”
The list is a mix of establishment politicians and progressive upshots: Georgia’s gubernatorial sensation Stacey Abrams, San Francisco mayor-turned governor candidate Gavin Newsom and the congressional candidate Harley Rouda challenging Vladimir Putin’s favorite congressman.
Noticeably absent from the list?
Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Long seen as a bridge between the progressive and establishment wings of the Democratic Party, Obama is appearing to reject Cortez’s controversial brand of socialism. Although the former president never endorsed Cortez’s Democratic primary challenger Joe Crowley—the incumbent favored Hillary Clinton for president in the 2008 presidential election—he did give a nod to New York candidates Antonio Delgado and Anna Kaplan. Since Obama is breaking with his predecessors over the extent of his involvement in the political process post-presidency, it is unclear how many waves of nominations there will be from his network, or if Cortez will later receive support.
Currently campaigning for progressive candidates alongside Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cortez’s ascent has worried centrists.
Former FBI Director James Comey tweeted that the “president and his Republican Party are counting” on Democrats to “rush to the socialist left.” Former Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman echoed these sentiments in a Wall Street Journal op-ed urging Crowley to run against Cortez as a third-party candidate in the fall.