June 27, 2018 2:10 pm
Updated: June 27, 2018 10:49 pm

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Meet the socialist underdog who shocked the Democrats

WATCH ABOVE: Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reacts to her shocking win in New York, after seven states held primary elections on June 26.


A 28-year-old Latina millennial from the Bronx has pulled off a stunning upset in a New York City Democratic congressional primary, knocking off a prominent party veteran in her first bid for public office.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won 57.5 per cent of the vote against Rep. Joe Crowley, a 10-term Democrat widely seen as a contender to potentially lead the party or become Speaker of the House.

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She’s now in a position to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, if she successfully carries New York’s 14th district in November. The district includes parts of the Bronx and Queens, where immigrants make up nearly half of the population.

This May 6, 2018 photo shows candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, right, during a Bengali community outreach in New York.

Corey Torpie/Courtesy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Campaign via AP

Ocasio-Cortez is a left-leaning community organizer who previously worked on Bernie Sanders’ campaign. She also worked under late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy as a student.

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The Bronx native ran on a shoestring budget against the 56-year-old Crowley, whom she characterized as an out-of-touch elitist with plenty of Wall Street campaign cash.

“This race is about people versus money. We’ve got people, they’ve got money,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a biographical campaign video.

The video shows her managing her family, commuting to work and meeting with community members.

Born to a mother from Puerto Rico and a father from the Bronx, Ocasio-Cortez says she knew she could connect with her diverse district.

“The community is ready for a movement of economic and social justice,” she told the Associated Press. “That is what we tried to deliver.”

Identity crisis

Ocasio-Cortez’s victory is being labelled as a sign of the generational divide within the Democratic Party, which continues to search for an identity in the wake of its defeat in the 2016 presidential election.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stands at the Tornillo-Guadalupe port of entry gate on June 24, 2018, in Tornillo, Texas, where she was part of a group protesting the U.S. administration’s zero-tolerance policy to illegal immigrants.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The party still lacks a contender for the 2020 presidential election, and remains torn between left-wing liberals and more pragmatic centrists as it lurches toward mid-terms in November.

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Ocasio-Cortez presented herself during the campaign as a down-to-earth local candidate for whom politics “wasn’t in the plan.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump attacks Democrats over ‘phony stories of sadness and grief’ about immigration

“Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office,” she says in her video campaign ad. “But after 20 years of the same representation, we have to ask: Who has New York been changing for?”

Ocasio-Cortez was the first candidate to challenge Crowley’s seat in 14 years — a point she sought to highlight in her campaign.

“It’s time we acknowledge that not all Democrats are the same,” she said in her campaign video.

In this June 22, 2016, file photo, Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

She campaigned on a socialist platform of Medicare for all, tuition-free public colleges, a federal jobs guarantee and criminal justice reform. She’s also called for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department to be abolished.

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U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to be delighted by Crowley’s defeat.

“The Democrats are in Turmoil!” he tweeted.

Trump also suggested Crowley “should have been nicer, and more respectful, to his President!”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lamented Crowley’s loss in a statement issued Tuesday night. The statement did not mention Ocasio-Cortez until the final line, when it merely congratulated her on her victory.

Crowley had been seen as a potential successor to Pelosi before his ouster.

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Crowley also congratulated Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter.

Ocasio-Cortez will run against Republican candidate Anthony Pappas in November.

— With files from the Associated Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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