Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got support from a surprising source this week: Kentucky Rep. James Comer, a Republican who warned his GOP colleagues that they are inviting trouble by messing with the freshman firebrand from New York.
“A lot of Republicans are making a mistake picking on her,” Comer said.
Comer also said Ocasio-Cortez is smart and has a “movement of millenials” behind her, and that Republicans who wish to tangle with her may regret that decision. Comer’s comments came while making an appearance on “Hey, Kentucky,” a political show in the state hosted by a Democrat sports radio host, Matt Jones, a former lawyer who is considering taking on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his Senate seat in 2020.
Rep. Andy Barr, also of Kentucky, recently invited Ocasio-Cortez to the Bluegrass State to tour a coal mine so she can see the real-life consequences her Green New Deal plan would have on the lives of coal miners, essentially ending the industry altogether.
Comer said he understands why Barr wants to try to provide the Democratic legislator with an appreciation for coal, but added that he doesn’t see an “upside” to the visit.
“I think she’s pretty set in her ways,” Comer said.
Ocasio-Cortez told McClatchy that she considered the “economic and social dignity” of coal miners when she put the Green New Deal together, adding that she’s worried about the environmental effects in Central Appalachia of mountaintop removal mining.
Such mining involves explosive blasts that dislodge bedrock to allow access to coal seams, with debris dumped in adjoining valleys. The congresswoman has co-sponsored legislation championed by Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky, that would halt new mountaintop mining until the health effects are studied.
Ocasio-Cortez he has become the subject of endless Republican fascination. Comer said it was “fair game” for Republicans to criticize other Democratic freshmen, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, whom Republican critics have accused of belittling the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Omar has been lambasted by President Donald Trump for saying that “some people did something” as she talked about 9/11 and anti-Muslim sentiment.
But, Comer said Ocasio-Cortez has a “movement of millennials that follow her” and that she comes prepared to make her case at House committee meetings. She and Comer both are members of the House Oversight Committee.
“She is smart, and I think we need to be very prepared when we debate her on issues that we’re having a hard time with,” Comer said. “There’s still a future for coal but we need to make sure we’re debating the right people on that issue.”