“It’s time to put the working class first” was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s message to Washington after pulling off one the biggest political upsets in history.
Ocasio-Cortez, aligned with the progressive Democratic Socialists of America, took down nearly 20-year incumbent Joseph Crowley in a primary day romp 15,897 to 11,761 to become the next Democratic Party candidate to run for the 14th Congressional seat in November’s general election.
When she first learned that the race was called in her favor she let out a gasp heard around the political world.
“Every person out here changed America tonight,” she said while standing atop a barstool in the crowded Bronx pool hall that held her election watch party. “This victory tonight belongs to every person in this room,” the victor declared.
While only 13% of the registered Democratic Party voters bothered to cast a ballot, Ocasio-Cortez won both the Bronx and Queens portions of the district.
While nabbing the Bronx’s 36% of the district, 4,093 to 3,541, she demolished the man everyone was touting as the next speaker of the House in his home borough, where he is also the Democratic party leader, 11,804 to 8,220.
The insurgent’s campaign that started with clipboards in plastic bags, overcame being outspent 18 to 1 per vote from the establishment-based Crowley. “It’s no secret he’s very well financed,” Ocasio-Cortez said days before her first primary election ever. “But people don’t know him, especially the Bronx, so we aren’t scared of big money because we have big people,” the Parkchester native added.
Without the funds available to take out major ads like Crowley, she turned to social media.
She ended up running a cost efficient, savvy social media campaign that went viral catching the attention of both her district and the nation.
Ocasio-Cortez, a Bernie Sanders organizer, has lived a humble life. Her father passed away during the great recession of the late 2000s; so, it was up to Alexandria and her mother to find ways to get by.
“I had to bartend, I had to wait tables, I know what it’s like to be a working class New Yorker,” Ocasio-Cortez said as she criticized Crowley for not even living within his district any more. “I grew up uninterested in politics, I thought it was just a local political machine,” she added.
“Now we’re going to organize the community, we will have town halls, focus on housing improvement, stop forecloses, rent increases and forced rezoning,” the 28-year-old said. “We can’t wash our hands of these local issues, it’s time we bring the fight home,” she added.
But prior to the next battle, Ocasio-Cortez wants to take a little breather and catch up on some much needed sleep.
While Alexandria and her crew were celebrating her dramatic victory on Tuesday, late endorser and gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon came to congratulate her win.
“I think she’s an amazing human, I think she’s run an amazing race. She shows that when you oppose the status quo even when it seems like a mountain, what matters in the end is how you speak to voters and that they can put their trust in you,” Nixon said. “It makes me feel doubly excited for my own campaign and makes me excited for New York and United States that we have so many progressive women running for office and being embraced,” Nixon proudly added.
Ocasio-Cortez’s platform includes the abolishment of ICE, Medicare expansion, free public college tuition and immigration reform.
Meanwhile on the other side of the East River in Queens, Crowley faced the music that his political career was for the time being on hold, by signing tunes to his supporters, while strumming his guitar.
He dedicated his performance of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’ to his Democrat competitor that ousted the powerful congressman during his first primary challenge.
Crowley later released a statement congratulating Ocasio-Cortez, stating, “This is why we must come together. We will only be able to stop Donald Trump and the Republican Congress by working together as a united Democratic Party.”
Come this November, Ocasio-Cortez will face GOP candidate Anthony Pappas in the general election hoping to complete one of the most unexpected political spoils in American history.
Congressman Eliot Engel, who also represents the Bronx, easily defeated his three challengers.