Meet the 28-year-old former bartender who will likely become the youngest Congresswoman ever
All eyes are on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old democratic socialist who unseated 10-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley of New York in a major primary upset in New York City Tuesday night.
Ocasio-Cortez’s win was a surprise to the political establishment, given that Crowley was seen as a likely replacement for Nancy Pelosi as the top Democrat in the House of Representatives. But to those who were paying attention to New York City’s outer boroughs, the young liberal Latina’s victory was not so shocking.
New York’s District 14, which encompasses working-class neighborhoods in both the Bronx and Queens, has always been particularly progressive, but Ocasio-Cortez leans even farther left by today’s Democratic party standards. Nonetheless, her stance on issues like immigration reform and the criminal justice system energized the local community.
“This is not an end, this is the beginning,” she said to her supporters during a CNN interview on Tuesday. “You have given this country hope, you have given this country proof that when you knock on your neighbor’s door, when you come to them with love, when you let them know that no matter your stance, you are there for them — that we can make change.”
Things changed for Ocasio-Cortez when her 48-year-old father died of cancer in the middle of the 2008 recession. She started working two jobs — one as a bartender — sometimes working 18-hour shifts to help her family make ends meet.
According to her website, after experiencing financial and healthcare struggles firsthand, Ocasio-Cortez realized how deeply policy decisions made at the highest levels of government impact everyday families living paycheck to paycheck.