Meet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the millennial, socialist political novice who's now the youngest woman ever elected to Congress

Rick Loomis/GettyAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez made history in the 2018 midterm elections.

29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made history on Tuesday by becoming the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress.

She won 78% of the vote in the midterm elections on Tuesday, according to The New York Times. She will represent New York’s 14th congressional district.

Ocasio-Cortez, a self-declared Democratic socialist, beat veteran Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s congressional primary election in June in a shocking upset within the Democratic Party.

Just a year ago, the political novice had been working as a bartender to help support her working-class family.

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.

The primary in June 2018 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 Ocasio-Cortez shortly after her primary election win. “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.

Read more:
This is the platform that launched Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old democratic socialist, to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress

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.

In June 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 it 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 primary election 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

Her win over Crowley was 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.

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

Source: The New York Times

Trump celebrated Crowley’s loss in the 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 in the primaries, even dedicating a guitar performance to his opponent that night. The song? “Born to Run.”

But Crowley remained on the midterm ballot ticket, running instead under the Working Families party ticket. He ended up winning 6.6% of the midterm vote, The New York Times reported.

Seth Wenig/AP and Alex Wong/Getty ImagesAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Joe Crowley

Source: The New York Times

In the run-up to the midterms she continued to campaign around New York and appeared on multiple talk shows to advocate for her platform. The New York Times in called her a “political star.”

Source: The New York Times

In August, however, she was criticised for excluding journalists from two town hall meetings that were otherwise open to the public. She said the meetings were “designed for residents to feel safe discussing sensitive issues in a threatening political time.”

Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Ocasio-Cortez also continued to criticise Trump as the midterm campaign went on. After the president claimed in September that 3,000 people “did not die” following Hurricane Maria, she said her own grandfather “died in the aftermath of the storm. Uncounted.”

Read more:
‘My own grandfather died’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams Trump’s tweets on Puerto Rico

On November 6, Ocasio-Cortez won 78% of the vote to represent New York’s 14th district in the midterms, becoming the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress.

Read more:
Diversity wins: All of the people who made history in the 2018 midterm election

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