AOC PAC Issues City Council Endorsement Process

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Photo by Tsubasa Berg)

Running for New York City Council and looking for that progressive gold stamp of approval?

Well, there’s a questionnaire for that. 

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s PAC, Courage to Change (CTC) released their endorsement questionnaire on Monday for interested candidates running for the New York City Council.

CTC is officially affiliated with Ocasio-Cortez and supports challengers and incumbents “who display political courage –– people who refuse to bow to establishment pressure, who advocate ferociously for working-class families, and who have lived the same struggles as the people they seek to represent,” according to the website. It accepts no corporate PAC money and requires it’s candidates to do the same.

“The CTC endorsement is awarded to candidates who clearly demonstrate an unwavering commitment to change a political system that puts wealthy special interests ahead of working people. It means you have the courage to stand up to established interests, big money, and politics as usual no matter the Party. Eligible candidates don’t just talk – they have a proven movement-building-track record of organizing to get the job done,” said Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez played an integral part in shaping the questionnaire, said the congresswoman’s spokesperson Lauren Hitt, but receiving the endorsement of CTC is not the same as receiving an endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez herself. The congresswoman will be issuing her own endorsements separately. However, a candidate must first be endorsed by the PAC to be considered for a personal endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez. 

CTC recently came under fire for sending out unsolicited $5,000 donations to House Democrats earlier this month. Some of the donations went to moderate Democrats running in districts where swaying would-be Republican voters is important to their win. A few of the recipients returned the donations, worried that having a PAC associated with Ocasio-Cortez on their campaign finance filings would be the death knell to their campaign and ammunition for Republican opponents. 

The questionnaire seeks to assess candidates’ experiences and stances on a variety of issues including infrastructure, housing, and accepting money from for-profit PACs. It is divided into seven parts. Parts one and two focus on the campaign practices while parts three through seven focus on policy that the candidates can advance in the Council if elected. 

The questions were designed to be as objective as possible, Hitt said. A candidate either qualifies or doesn’t based on how they respond to the questions, many of which require ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. 

According to the press release about the questionnaire, multiple candidates running in a district can receive the endorsement of CTC. If that happens, the PAC encourages voters to vote for all of them by ranking them in order of preference on the city’s new ranked-choice ballot. 

Candidates interested in being endorsed by CTC have two weeks to get their materials in order. They must submit answers to the PAC endorsement questionnaire on or before 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on May 10.