Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated incumbent Joseph Crowley Tuesday night in a surprising primary upset.
The political newcomer is 28 years old and was the first primary challenger Crowley, 56, has faced in more than a decade. Crowley, the fourth-highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives and chair of the Queens County Democratic Party, was thought to be a possible successor to Nancy Pelosi as leader of the party.
Ocasio-Cortez, who did not accept money from corporations for her campaign, was outspent by Crowley, but got increased media attention after a campaign video that resonated with everyday New Yorkers. “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office,” she says in the video, which features clips of her getting ready in the morning, riding the subway and talking with New Yorkers on the campaign trail.
She won 57.5 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary and will face Republican Anthony Pappas in November. Learn more about the Democratic candidate below.
She was born in the Bronx
Born to a Puerto Rican mother and a Bronx-born father, Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx, in the district she is running in. She attended school in Westchester and went to Boston University, but returned to the Bronx after graduating.
Her parents were both working-class — her mom a housekeeper and school bus driver and her dad a small-business owner.
She organized for Bernie Sanders
Ocasio-Cortez was an organizer for Sanders when he ran in the 2016 presidential primary. She also worked in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s office in Massachusetts, while she was in school.
She was an educational director at the National Hispanic Institute, and when her mom was struggling financially after her dad died from cancer in 2008, she took extra jobs as a waitress and bartender to help her.
She was the first primary challenger to Crowley in 14 years
The candidate is also the first woman of color to run in New York’s 14th District and would be the youngest person in Congress if she wins the election in November.
Her platform is very progressive
Ocasio-Cortez campaigned on a number of progressive policies, including Medicare-for-all, tuition-free public college and a federal jobs guarantee.
“I think that these issues are really core and really critical to what working New Yorkers need and what working-class Americans need,” she told amNewYork in May.
She has also called for the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and recently traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border to protest the separation of migrant families.
She unapologetically attacked Crowley for running a “political machine” and said Democrats need to be bold to win back Congress in November.
“I don’t think that middle-of-the-road, shy campaigns are going to be what wins our government back,” she said.