“Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.”
That was the opening line of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ primary campaign video that went viral. If you haven’t heard of Ocasio-Cortez yet, you need to.
She’s the 28-year-old first-time Democrat candidate who just defeated long-standing Democratic Representative Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district primaries, making history as the first Democrat to upset an incumbent in a House primary this year. Crowley had previously held the seat since 1999, earning him the fourth-highest position in the House. To make the shocking win even more significant, Ocasio-Cortez had over 57 percent of the vote.
So, how did the political newcomer rise to the top?
The powerful Puerto-Rican politician was born in the Bronx and has made it her life’s mission to unabashedly fight for what she believes in. Ocasio-Cortez graduated from Boston University with degrees in economics and international relations. After interning for Senator Ted Kennedy in college, she found her passion for championing for the underprivileged while focusing on immigration issues. Following that passion, she helped organized Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, driving cross country to speak to those afflicted by human rights violations.
Once she had her first taste of working the campaign trail, there was no stopping her. Her ambition drove her to establish the progressive grassroots campaign that would challenge Crowley. As a member of The Democratic Socialists of America, Ocasio-Cortez garnered endorsements from several progressive and civil rights groups like Brand New Congress, Black Lives Matter, MoveOn, and many more. The main pillars of her campaign include defunding Immigration and Customs Enforcement, enacting a nationwide $15 minimum wage, expanding Medicare, advancing climate control, and delegating more funds to education and health care.
A frenzy of excitement and hope has ensued across the country following the groundbreaking win. Positioning herself as the average middle-class New Yorker who’s grown tired of the same representation decade after decade, Ocasio-Cortez has inspired thousands of young progressives enthused by the much-needed win. Not only is Ocasio-Cortez’ victory monumental for democrats, but also represents a huge stride for women and people of color.
She’ll face Republican candidate Anthony Pappas in November — in the Democratic-favored district that is comprised mostly of minorities. Look up, America, as more women than ever before in history have run for office, the ceiling has been cracked and is well on its way to being shattered.
By Cara Hutto
Born and raised a Tar Heel, Cara is a culinary aficionado and zealous writer consumed by wanderlust. She's passionate about women's issues and interviewing inspirational women in her community.