Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic socialist and Queens native, unseated 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley on June 26 in the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district.
This young Latinx activist and first-time politician had what is being called the biggest upset of the political season so far, shaking up her party to represent a district that is 49.80 percent Hispanic and includes parts of eastern Bronx and north-central Queens.
Here are some fast facts you need to know about Ocasio-Cortez.
1. She might become the youngest person elected in Congress.
At 28-years-old, Ocasio-Cortez could become the youngest politician in Congress. She is younger than the current youngest U.S. Representative, Elise Stefanik, who is 33-years-old.
2. Ocasio-Cortez proved that strong grassroots campaigns have power.
After her surprising win, Ocasio-Cortez told CBS News the average contribution to her campaign was $17. “We have blown through well past $200,000 for this race, all in small-dollar working-class kind of contributions,” she told CBSN in May.
She also refused to take any big-name donations from corporations. Her campaign was also all volunteer-led.
3. She has a major love for the Bronx because that’s her home.
It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours – and after a long day in Manhattan yesterday, it felt good to be back in my beloved Bronx. . We did this whole thing on our own – by knocking on our neighbor’s doors, working with local activists and organizers, and almost entirely on small-dollar donations – without a DIME from corporate lobbyists. We have shown the world that another Congress is possible. . I can’t wait to start this journey with you all in earnest and take you for the ride. I love my community. I love the Bronx and Queens because I love our working class roots, our history, and our cultural beauty. I feel an immense amount of responsibility to do right by all the thousands of people who worked, donated, voted, and believed. . A new era is here. And I’m so proud to be here with you.
Ocasio-Cortez was born in Queens and moved back to the Bronx after receiving a degree in economic and international relations from Boston University. During her time living in the Bronx, she worked for the National Hispanic Institute and helped high school and middle school students expand their community leadership and literacy skills as an educational director.
4. Her campaign video is simple yet powerful.
Ocasio-Cortez’s two minute-long campaign video has been viewed more than 330,000 times and starts out with “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.” With a statement like that, you know she is ready to be the change for her congressional district. In fact, the video is titled “The Courage to Change.”
5. She’s a Democratic Socialist.
Ocasio-Cortez says in her campaign video, “It’s time to fight for a New York that working families can afford,” alluding to her Democratic socialist roots. She honed that part while campaigning for Senator Bernie Sanders in New York back in 2016. An article by The Daily Beast said membership for the Democratic Socialists of America trended upwards after her victory.
6. Bernie Sanders congratulated her victory because it was truly a surprise victory.
Congratulations to @Ocasio2018 on her extraordinary upset victory tonight! She took on the entire local Democratic establishment in her district and won a very strong victory. She demonstrated once again what progressive grassroots politics can do.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 27, 2018
Speaking of Bernie Sanders, he gave her a congrats post on Tuesday night, getting more ‘likes’ and RTs than his other congratulatory posts to another political candidate that night.
7. She flew under the radar in the campaign.
It may look unassuming, but this means a lot to me. Today of all days, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade 🇵🇷, @elnuevodia put a profile of me on their front page. . The headline? “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: orgullosa de estar al lado de la gente” or “AOC: Proud to Stand on the Side of the People.” . El Nuevo Día is the most widely circulated newspaper in Puerto Rico. My mom was born and raised there, and I spent many of my summers as a kid living in PR with family. As a member of the diaspora it’s hard not to feel like you’re stumbling or failing, especially in the wake of María. So to have this profile and spark hope feels like an enormous responsibility. I want our families to breathe clean air, to drive safe roads, to have roofs. And to earn the trust as a champion of our isla is a humbling reminder that WE as a movement are responsible for delivering justice for #puertorico. . Que bonita bandera 🇵🇷
Ocasio-Cortez was seen as an outsider for her political views as much as her freshman status as a first-time political candidate. The New York Times didn’t even profile her before the race, but outlets including Refinery 29, El Nuevo Dia and NY1 did.
8. She worked for late Senator Ted Kennedy.
My recent thoughts on immigration and #abolishICE went viral on Twitter this weekend. Let’s weigh in. . Today I’m going on the Intercepted podcast to talk about immigration. Full disclosure: While I have worked in navigating the US immigration system in the past, I am NOT an immigration lawyer. . That said: what would you like to see discussed more in our national conversation about immigration? What’s being ignored or not discussed enough?
During college, she worked for the late Senator Ted Kennedy where she handled immigration casework for constituent families, as well as handling foreign affairs. She still values the lessons she learned under his guidance.
9. The issues she fights for are close to her heart.
Today I toured family businesses in NY-14 and spoke with owners about their needs. Unsurprisingly, they’re not too different from everyone else – rent is far, far too high for most to stay in business long. . This is Jackie, of Jackie’s Bonsai in College Point. She’s had this business for 20 years and raised 3 daughters with her business and her husband’s work. “Every year gets harder and harder,” said Jackie, “these developers come and buy the buildings, bring in the Big Businesses and push us out. Across the street, the businesses usually stay for only a year or two before they move or shut down.” . High rents impact ALL of us, and the problems in NYC really start with money in politics. When politicians take enormous sums of dark money from luxury developers, it’s hard to fight doggedly for working families. That’s why I don’t take a dime. . Photo by 📸: @thewhelming
Ocasio-Cortez ran on a platform of abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and fighting for universal health care, tuition-free college and federal jobs guarantee. According to her campaign website, she says she knows what it is like to meet issues regarding immigration, financial distress and healthcare head-on because she lived through them with her own family.
10. She used to work as a waitress.
In order to help her family make ends meet during the middle of the recession, Ocasio-Cortez took 18-hour shifts working as a waitress and at two other jobs.
11. She is close to her family.
Her father was a Bronx-born small businessman who died from cancer at the age of 48. She is close with her Puerto Rican mother and took a sweet video with her that she posted on her Instagram story after her monumental victory, saying she was catching up after having an intense day of media interviews.
12. She was part of the Standing Rock protest.
Direct Action Principles are posted throughout camp. Oceti Sakowin is dedicated to nonviolent action and trains all frontline warriors in prayerful demonstration before any actions are taken. I spoke with a woman in her 70s who uses a cane and was arrested while in prayer. She was put in a dog kennel during her 3-day detainment. Another Rosebud tribe member was shot at with rubber bullets while trying to pull wounded people off Turtle Mountain.
Ocasio-Cortez has been a part of rallies and protests including Standing Rock pipeline protests in South Dakota, visits to Flint, Michigan to meet with local community members and headed to the border recently to protest the Trump administration’s family separation policy.
13. Next chapter—the White House?
Will Ocasio-Cortez be setting her sights on the Oval Office eventually? Her mother, Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, told the New York Post her daughter’s “aspiration is to be president.”