In a stunning upset, 28-year-old political newcomer (and socialist woman of color) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has defeated 10-term Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley for his seat in New York’s 14th Congressional District.
The victory is remarkable on many levels—not only has Crowley has run unopposed in party primaries for the past 14 years, but he was largely expected to take on a greater role in future party leadership, including a possible tenure as Speaker of the House.
In fact, Crowley was so assured of his own victory that he didn’t even bother to partake in a debate against Ocasio-Cortez.
While the move reeks of arrogance, his confidence was not unfounded—Crowley out-raised Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign by a 10-1 margin ($3,350,000 vs. $300,000), and, as noted by the latter, Ocasio-Cortez’s name failed to even receive credit in much election coverage.
Alexandria’s campaign gained traction in late May when she released a video bearing a poignant first line: “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.”
Born to a working-class family (a mother from Puerto Rico and a father from the South Bronx), Ocasio-Cortez grew up in the district she plans to represent (which is comprised of approximately 50% immigrants).
More than a feeble attempt to reach her constituents, Alexandria’s background solidifies herself as a true people’s politician. Prior to her congressional run and following her graduation from Boston University with a degree in economics and international relations, Ocasio-Cortez worked in the office of Sen. Ted Kennedy and went on to serve as an organizer for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. In addition to her work in politics, Ocasio-Cortez is also an educator and a former waitress and bartender.
Ocasio-Cortez's progressive platform includes a call for widespread Medicare and higher education, gun control, and an end to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
Despite the magnitude of her win, Ocasio-Cortez’s fight is hardly over. The 28-year-old will face off against Republican candidate and St. John’s University professor Anthony Pappas in the November mid-term elections.