Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman and woman of color to be elected in the US Congress. She is Puerto Rican and refers to her Puerto Rican community as an amalgamation: “We are black; we are indigenous; we are Spanish; we are European.” Below are 7 more things you should know about her and events leading up to her win.
- She began her congressional campaign while working a job waiting tables and tending bar at Flats Fix, a taqueria in New York City’s Union Square. “For 80 percent of this campaign, I operated out of a paper grocery bag hidden behind that bar.” Between shifts at the restaurant, Alexandris retrieved her political literature and a change of clothes from the bag, then took off to canvass.One of her bar patrons at the restaurant helped design her fliers and campaign materials.
- She was among a slate of nationwide justice Democrats/Brand New Congress candidacy announcements that were livestreamed on May 16, 2017. In August 2017, she attended the Netroots Nation conference in Atlanta, appearing on a panel with fellow candidates on “how to run a grassroots campaign that puts people above party”.
- She was the first person since 2004 to challenge Joe Crowley, the Democratic Caucus Chair, in the Democratic primary. She faced a significant financial disadvantage, but said, “You can’t really beat big money with more money. You have to beat them with a totally different game.” Nearly 75% of her donations were small individual contributions, while less than one percent of Crowley’s contributions were. The Ocasio-Cortez campaign spent $194,000 to the Crowley campaign’s $3.4 million.
- Her campaign video began with her saying, “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office” Her campaign posters’ design took inspiration from “revolutionary posters and visuals from the past particularly those of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, Latino labor activists and co-founders of the United Farm Workers in the 1960s—and union badges.”
- On June 26, 2018, Alexandria received 57.13% of the vote (15,897) to Joe Crowley’s 42.5% (11,761), defeating the 10-term incumbent by almost 15 percentage points. Time called her victory “the biggest upset of the 2018 elections so far.” The New York Times described Crowley’s loss as “a shocking primary defeat, the most significant loss for a Democratic incumbent in more than a decade, and one that will reverberate across the party and the country”.The Guardian called it “one of the biggest upsets in recent American political history”. Her victory was especially surprising as she was outspent by a margin of 18 to 1
- Speaking on the victory she said: I knew that if we were going to win, the way that progressives win on an unapologetic message is by expanding the electorate. That’s the only way that we can win strategically. It’s not by rushing to the center. It’s not by trying to win spending all of our energy winning over those who have other opinions. It’s by expanding the electorate, speaking to those that feel disenchanted, dejected, cynical about our politics, and letting them know that we’re fighting for them.”
- A member of the Democratic Socialists of America, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the first member of the group (along with Rashida Tlaib to win a seat in congress. She has advocated for a progressive platform that includes Medicare For All, a federal jobs guarantee, guaranteed family leave, establishing a Green New Deal, abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, free public college and trade school, infrastructure projects for renewable energy, and a 70% marginal tax rate for incomes above $10 million. Culled from Wikipedia