Meet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the millennial, socialist political novice who beat her establishment Democratic rival in a huge electoral upset

Scott Heins/Getty

A 28-year-old political newcomer beat a veteran politician in New York’s Democratic Party congressional primary election Tuesday night in a shocking upset within the Democratic Party.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won 57.5% of the vote, while her opponent, Joe Crowley, had 42.5%. Crowley has represented New York’s 14th District since 1999 and had been touted as a potential future House speaker.

Ocasio-Cortez’s victory represents a major upset within the Democratic Party, which has seen a schism between establishment and progressive Democrats since the 2016 election.

Less than a year ago, Ocasio-Cortez was working as a bartender to help support her working-class family. This November, she will take on the Republican Anthony Pappas for a seat in the US House of Representatives. A Democrat has won that district by a landslide in the past nine elections.

Scroll down to learn more about her.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx to a working-class family. Her mum is Puerto Rican and her dad is a Bronx native.

Scott Heins/Getty

“Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office,” she said in a recent campaign ad. “I wasn’t born to a wealthy or powerful family.”

Source: Ocasio 2018


Her parents were disappointed in their local schooling system, so her extended family helped fund a move to a better school district.

Scott Heins/Getty

Shuttling between New York’s poorest borough in Bronx, where her extended family lived, and more affluent boroughs was her first experience of income inequality, she toldThe Intercept.


She went to Boston University, where she studied economics and international relations. After graduation she took up bartending and waitressing jobs to supplement her mother’s income as a housecleaner and bus driver.

Source: The Intercept


Less than one year ago she was still working as a bartender in New York.


You can see her in this promotional photo for Flats Fix, a taqueria in Union Square, Manhattan.


This was Ocasio-Cortez’s first run for office, but she had experience in politics. In college she worked for Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts on immigration issues, and she was an organiser for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign.


Sanders congratulated her Tuesday night. “She took on the entire local Democratic establishment in her district and won a very strong victory,” he said in a statement. “She demonstrated once again what progressive grassroots politics can do.”

Source: The Hill


Her campaign centered on a progressive platform advocating Medicare for everyone, a universal jobs guarantee, and immigration and criminal-justice reform.

Source: Vox, Ocasio 2018


Here’s her platform in full.


She has been particularly outspoken against President Donald Trump and his immigration policies, having amped up calls to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement following the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy of criminally prosecuting all adults who illegally cross into the US.


Early this week she travelled to the US-Mexico border to directly confront border officers outside a center for detaining children.

Joe Raedle/Getty

“These are human-rights abuses,” you can hear her shout to border guards in the video below.


She ran a low-budget campaign, raising about $US200,000 mainly through small contributions. Her campaign video, which went viral, was homemade: She wrote the script herself, shot in her local bodega, and had her family and volunteers help out.


Take a look at her campaign video:


Crowley collected $US3 million for his campaign. He hadn’t had to contest a primary for the past 14 years.

“This race is about people versus money,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her campaign video. “We’ve got people. They have got money.”

Source: Ocasio 2018


Ocasio-Cortez also has the support of Cynthia Nixon, who has engaged in a primary challenge with New York’s Democratic governor in this year’s election. “Alexandria and I are joining together to take on the old boys’ club,” Nixon said.

Scott Heins/Getty

“She represents the future of the Democratic Party,” Nixon, in blue in the photo above, said on Monday, according to Politico.

“Alexandria and I are joining together to take on the old boys’ club, rejecting corporate money and run people-powered campaigns that envision a progressive New York that serves the many, not just the few who can afford to buy influence.”

Source: Politico


Her win has been perceived as a major upset within the Democratic Party, which has seen a schism between establishment and progressive Democrats — as was demonstrated by Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns in 2016.


The New York Times called her a “Democratic Giant Slayer,” while the New York Post screamed: “Red Alert!”

Source: The New York Times


Trump has celebrated Crowley’s loss in Tuesday’s primary, though he appeared to attribute the result to himself. “Perhaps he should have been nicer, more respectful, to his President!” he tweeted.


Crowley conceded defeat, even dedicating a guitar performance to his opponent on Tuesday night. The song? “Born to Run.”


“We beat a machine with a movement,” she told supporters. If she wins the election, she is likely to be the youngest woman ever elected to the US House of Representatives.

Scott Heins/Getty

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