Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old progressive and former organizer for Sen. Bernie Sanders, defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in a stunning primary victory on Tuesday, June 26, in New York's 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of Queens and the Bronx. The moment is undoubtedly monumental.
Ocasio-Cortez, a Bronx-born Latina, has been unapologetic about her grassroots movement to support the working class. The first-time candidate's victory, described as the most significant primary upset of 2018, marks a possible political shift toward progressive leftist ideals – particularly as more progressive candidates have recently declared victories in primary elections across the country.
Ocasio-Cortez's bid was the first primary challenge Crowley, who is the fourth-ranking House Democrat, has seen in 14 years. The Latina millennial campaigned on progressive stances, like abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and pushing the Medicare-for-all bill led by Sanders. She has also notably declared the importance of having a person of color represent one of the country's most ethnically diverse congressional districts.
In an interview with HuffPost earlier this month, Ocasio-Cortez explained the importance of having an elected official who represents their community, especially in contrast to Crowley who is white and from a middle-class Irish family.
"Our district is overwhelmingly people of color, it’s working class, it’s very immigrant ― and it hasn’t had the representation we’ve needed,” she said.
It's time for a New York that works for all of us.
On June 26th, we can make it happen – but only if we have the #CourageToChange.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) May 30, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez's mom is from Puerto Rico, and her dad is from the Bronx. She graduated from Boston University where she studied economics and international relations. While in college, she worked under the late Senator Kennedy, spent time working with expectant mothers in West Africa and later served as an educational director working with Latino youth.
On her Facebook page, Ocasio-Cortez shared that after her father passed away in 2008, she worked as a waitress and bartender to help her family financially. The first-time candidate campaigned heavily on rejecting corporate donations and criticized Crowley for taking campaign donations from companies that have also given to Trump. Crowley raised more funds than Ocasio-Cortez by a 10-1 margin.
The child detention camps are here – I confronted the border officers myself.
Using their names, I told them exactly what they are responsible for.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) June 24, 2018
According to The New York Times, if Ocasio-Cortez is elected, she would become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.