- Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, both progressive Democrats, are self-described “BFFs.”
- Their friendship began when the two met at a small fundraiser in a Manhattan apartment before either had won their primary races.
- “Our relationship is not static, it is not one-dimensional, it is dynamic, it is deep, it is meaningful, it is real, and it grows by the day,” Pressley told INSIDER.
Boston city councilwoman Ayanna Pressley was on an Amtrak to New York in early June 2018 when she asked her campaign manager, Sarah Groh, to text a friend of Groh’s from college.
The friend was then a little-known New York congressional candidate running a similarly insurgent Democratic primary bid. Groh asked her old friend, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to stop by a fundraiser that evening being held for Pressley in a friend’s Manhattan apartment.
Ocasio-Cortez said she’d be happy to.
“I was in the middle of giving my stump and Alex walked in,” Pressley told INSIDER. “She’s diminutive in size, but large in presence. She’s luminous. I felt literally the air shift and I looked to my left and it was her entering into the event space.”
After Pressley’s speech, Ocasio-Cortez joined the Massachusetts congressional candidate in a small clearing in the living room.
Standing in front of a TV set, the then-28-year-old Bronx native declared, “This is not just a blue wave, this is a movement that’s coming to Congress this year.”
“Absolutely,” Pressley jumped in. “We called their bluff. When we had the Women’s March, they thought it was a moment. We knew we were ushering in a movement.”
Pressley added that she found commonalities between herself and Ocasio-Cortez.
“I think we both embody something that I fundamentally believe, which is that the people closest to the pain should be closest to the power,” the Bostonian said, referring to one of her campaign slogans.
Ocasio-Cortez later tweeted about the meeting, “Our BFF applications are already in.”
“That was some ‘herstory’ right there,” Erika Soto Lamb, who hosted the Manhattan fundraiser, told INSIDER. “I don’t mean to be too saccharine, but there was magic in these two amazing, smart, young women of colour talking about the progressive fight that needed to be taken on.”
Two weeks later, Pressley sent one of her field organisers to New York to help get out the vote for the last days of Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign.
When the New Yorker stunned the political world by beating 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary that month, she asked her legions of new supporters to turn their attention to Pressley’s race.
Pressley, now her state’s first black congresswoman, says the friendship between the two new lawmakers goes much deeper than their social media shout-outs. The two new Democratic Party rising stars have bonded over both being alums of Boston University and former service industry workers, as well as the shared experience of losing a parent.
“You know how there are people who have Instagram relationships? This is not an Instagram relationship,” Pressley told INSIDER. “Our relationship is not static, it is not one-dimensional, it is dynamic, it is deep, it is meaningful, it is real, and it grows by the day.”
It was incredible to see how profoundly she has touched the people of Boston & Dorchester.
Ayanna’s farewell speech on the needs of girls brought the house down.
????% worth it pic.twitter.com/NpWmJQWPDg
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 5, 2018
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