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The Point: Schumer's hurdles, high and low

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has no signs

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has no signs of a primary challenge building up. Credit: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

Pushing national legislation past big obstacles and clinging to a one-vote margin remain Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s clearest challenges.

By comparison, getting reelected looks for the moment like a smooth road for him, as the powerful Democrat strives for a fifth term this fall.

As New York turned deeper blue in recent years, some thought or perhaps wished that Schumer would be vulnerable to a challenge from the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx), who in a world of social media and meme politics attracts outside attention as a relatively new Congress member. But at this point, the second week of the election year, there are no signs of a primary challenge building despite the predictions of ex-President Donald Trump.

He said in an October statement: "The Progressives gain far more power with the legislation being currently talked about by failing than if it passes. It makes them a true powerhouse. Next up, AOC running against Chuck Schumer for his US Senate Seat."

While AOC hasn’t endorsed Schumer for November, she hasn’t been commenting at all on the potential for a run. The other New York Senate seat, held by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, comes open in 2024, and it is not yet known whether she will seek reelection, so the hunting ground for progressives may lay with the junior seat, not the senior one.

For historical perspective: New York Senators Daniel P. Moynihan and Jacob Javits won four terms, and Schumer stopped Al D’Amato in 1998 from having more than three. But in the U.S. Senate, which rewards seniority, a fifth term for Schumer wouldn’t even come close to a national record; none of the top 25 for longevity come from New York, and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is approaching the end of his eighth term. President Joe Biden, number 18 on the list, was a six-termer when Barack Obama tapped him for vice president.

The NYS Democrats’ nominating convention will be in February, with designating petitions to be distributed, signed and submitted between early March and early April. Election officials have yet to release the official political calendar for the year, but federal and state primaries are due to take place together in June, so the timeline for organizing statewide primary campaigns is growing short.

On the Republican side, Schumer’s potential November opponents are relatively unheard of. Joe Pinion, a regular Newsmax commentator, identifies himself on his Twitter account as an advocate of "progressive conservatism," and lost a race for a Yonkers state Assembly seat in 2018. Lawyer Aleksandr Mici, a Bronx lawyer and Albanian immigrant, is also looking for the GOP nomination to challenge Schumer. Mici has run unsuccessfully for state Senate and City Council.

By way of understatement, state Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs told The Point on Tuesday of Schumer’s chances: "You wouldn’t mind being in his position."

Sometimes political intel is about what doesn’t materialize, and the long-rumored once-in-a-lifetime stop-Schumer drive from the left seems so far to fit that mold.