“Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office,” said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a now viral campaign video.
But run she did. And win she did. Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old first-time candidate, defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th district in its Tuesday primary.
Ocasio-Cortez, who will now face Republican Anthony Pappas in November, is largely expected to win the predominantly Democratic district. Should she win, she will be the youngest person ever elected to Congress.
Crowley had not faced a primary challenger in 14 years. Ocasio-Cortez, who was born and raised in the community she hopes to represent, ran as a Democratic Socialist. She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and a former Bernie Sanders volunteer. Ocasio-Cortez ran a largely grassroots campaign, eschewing corporate donations for small donors. Nearly 70% of her campaign money came from individual contributions under $200.
Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign platform includes universal health care, a federal jobs guarantee, tuition-free public colleges, and perhaps most notably in recent weeks, the abolition of ICE. It is this last element in particular that set her apart from her opponent and resonated with the 14th district, which includes parts of the heavily immigrant Bronx and Queens. Ocasio-Cortez even made a surprise visit to the Mexican border just days before the election to join protests at an ICE detention center.
More broadly, Ocasio-Cortez has argued she has a better understanding of the problems faced by the people of her district than Crowley, and believes the tenets of her platform will function to “protect” the largely working class community from the “superstorms” they face.
“I can’t name a single issue with roots in race that doesn’t have economic implications, and I cannot think of a single economic issue that doesn’t have racial implications,” explained Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with The Nation last week. “The idea that we have to separate them out and choose one is a con.”