How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic Socialist, just pulled off “the biggest upset of 2018”

By Marcus Baram

Just seven months ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was working as a bartender. Tonight, she pulled off the most stunning upset of the primaries, defeating Joe Crowley, the fourth-most-powerful Democrat in the House, and stunning political observers. Ocasio-Cortez, 28, is likely to defeat her Republican opponent in her heavily Democratic district in New York that encompasses the eastern Bronx and parts of north-central Queens, which would make her the youngest member of Congress, ushering in a new era in politics. Her victory, in which she received 58% of the vote while the longtime incumbent captured just 42%, was declared “the biggest upset of the 2018 elections so far” by Time magazine. 

The community organizer and member of the Democratic Socialists ran on a very progressive platform, which includes calling to abolish ICE, criminal justice reform, a federal jobs guarantee, and Medicare-for-all. And she faced a huge challenge, raising just $200,000 compared to the $3 million collected by Crowley, but she captured the energy of her community and tapped into their passions. Last week, as the city was convulsed with anger and protests over the Trump administration’s child separation policy, Ocasio-Cortez traveled down to Texas and confronted border agents outside of an ICE detention center.

Ocasio-Cortez was so unknown and dismissed by the establishment that she didn’t even have a Wikipedia page until about 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, shortly after she secured her victory. At her victory rally, she (appropriately) stood on the bar and told her cheering supporters, “Everyone in this room changed America tonight!”

After embracing some friends and relatives, she told the Queens Chronicle: “My family went through so much. My mother cleaned houses and drove school buses. Nine months ago, I was serving customers at a restaurant. What this means for her and my family, all the struggles we went through, there’s light at the end of it.”

This video capturing the exact moment on Tuesday night that she realized she’d won is pretty priceless:




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