5 things to know about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the powerhouse, Socialist millennial, who beat a veteran Democrat
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset incumbent Democratic Representative Joseph Crowly in New York’s 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be a sign that the political tide is finally changing.
Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez scored a stunning primary night victory over veteran Representative Joseph Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district. For the most part, her race was covered by local media, like NY1 and the Village Voice, but wasn’t on the radar of many national outlets.
However, since her win, everyone has been asking, “Who’s that girl?”
Here’s a list of five facts about the Bronx native who has given hope to those tired of “poli-tricks” as usual.
READ MORE: ICE denies Foxy Brown’s father re-entry into U.S. from Trinidad
She was part of Bernie Sanders presidential campaign
Ocasio-Cortez’s was an organizer for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid and her messaging in the primary clearly reflects their political similarities.
According to The New York Times, she placed an emphasis on smaller donors instead of wealthy corporate ones, with many of the donations she received not exceeding $200. Yet as reported by Vox, her grassroots approach raised approximately $600,000 alone through those small donors.
“She took on the entire local Democratic establishment in her district and won a very strong victory,” Sanders said in a congratulatory tweet. “She demonstrated once again what progressive grassroots politics can do.”
Congratulations to @Ocasio2018 on her extraordinary upset victory tonight! She took on the entire local Democratic establishment in her district and won a very strong victory. She demonstrated once again what progressive grassroots politics can do.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 27, 2018
According to her campaign website, she also worked for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, with a hyper focus on immigration and foreign affairs.
She’s a proud socialist
Socialism may be treated like a dirty word in American politics but this 28-year-old couldn’t be any prouder to claim it.
Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, which is reportedly the largest socialist organization in the country.
She once told Vogue magazine that to her socialism means “democratic participation in our economic dignity, and our economic, social and racial dignity.”
Her campaign platform included: Medicare for all, increased gun control, tuition-free public colleges, “housing as a human right,” and criminal justice reform.
“To me, what socialism means is to guarantee a basic level of dignity,” she explained. “It’s asserting the value of saying that the America we want and the America we are proud of is one in which all children can access a dignified education. It’s one in which no person is too poor to have the medicines they need to live. It’s to say that no individual’s civil rights are to be violated. And it’s to say that we need to really examine the historical inequities that have created much of the inequalities – both in terms of economics and social and racial justice – because they are intertwined.”
Check out her inspiring campaign video below.
She could become the youngest woman in Congress
At 28 years old, Ocasio-Cortez could make history as the youngest women in Congress.
She has never held an elected office before and is still paying off her student loans, she once told Elite Daily. And is a graduate of Boston University where she earned two degrees: economics and international relations.
Currently, Elise Stefanik, who also won her congressional seat in New York at 30 years old, holds the record.
She grew up in the Bronx and supports her family
Born in the Bronx and raised by a mother from Puerto Rico and a father who was a small business owner, Ocasio-Cortez has had a life that mirrors that of many of her potential constituents.
Her unbelievably strong work ethic that captured the attention of voters was fostered at a young age after her father passed away from cancer in 2008.
READ MORE: OPINION: Ya’ll Tripping: Maxine Waters and the “Angry Auntie” antics are EXACTLY what we need to fight Donald Trump
With their patriarch gone, a teenaged Ocasio-Cortez worked two jobs in the restaurant industry to help her family make ends meet and credits her upbringing for inspiring her to get into politics.
“Politics were talked about at the table every single day,” she once told Elite Daily. “It’s the culture. In Puerto Rico, you talk about politics all the time, even when people disagree.”
One year ago, @Ocasio2018 was working at a craft cocktail bar in Manhattan — their website still has an image of her mixing drinks. From the bar, to destroying the Queens Democratic machine, in one year. pic.twitter.com/XvmDYxAXG4
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) June 27, 2018
Her opponent didn’t see her as a threat
Joe Crowley, a 10-term Democrat, had been projected as a future party leader or even Speaker of the House.
He had not faced a challenger from his own party in 14 years in his mostly ethnic minority district, which covers parts of the Bronx and Queens. And Crowley was so secure in his position that when it came time to debate his opponent, he didn’t even show up and instead sent a surrogate.
Now, the man who was No. 4 in House Democratic leadership, has been unseated by a woman of color who is half his age and it’s made many in the old guard sit up and ask, “How?”
For starters, Ocasio-Cortez understood the power of the internet and kept in close touch with The Young Turks, a progressive streaming TV network, and other outlets that previously boosted Bernie Sanders‘ presidential campaign in 2016.
The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel, who tracked her campaign, told CNN that “the left has discovered a media infrastructure that can bring attention to candidates who might be ignored because they don’t fit a traditional, horse race media narrative.”
He wrote on Wednesday that Ocasio-Cortez “simply outplayed” her opponent “across the media.”
She is also a vocal activist on the front lines of the battle over US border policies and made her presence felt at rallies while her opponent stayed home.
For example, last weekend, just a few days before the primary, Ocasio-Cortez left New York to join protests at an ICE detention center in Texas.
Challenger @Ocasio2018 toppled one of the top Democrats in Congress, @repjoecrowley, Tuesday night in their primary in the 14th District. The victory stunned even her, live on our channel. #NY1Politics https://t.co/fnK1O0bacz pic.twitter.com/RjuqHJpn1p
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) June 27, 2018