- On Tuesday night, a 28-year-old political newcomer and a self-described socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, beat one of the most powerful and entrenched Democrats in Congress.
- Rep. Joe Crowley, a 56-year-old Irish-American who has long ruled the Queens party machine, represented the party establishment, while Ocasio-Cortez galvanized the insurgent left-wing.
- In one of the most diverse districts in the country, Ocasio-Cortez ran on a deeply progressive platform — calling for Medicare for all, a federal jobs guarantee, and immigrant rights.
On Tuesday night, a 28-year-old political newcomer and a self-described socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, beat one of the most powerful and entrenched Democrats in Congress — a shocking primary win for the progressive wing of the party.
Ocasio-Cortez will likely be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress come November.
In his concession speech on Tuesday night, Rep. Joe Crowley appeared to acknowledge the broader movement Ocasio-Cortez is a part of — a younger generation of more progressive and anti-establishment Democrats, many of whom put their faith in Sen. Bernie Sanders' insurgent 2016 campaign.
"It's not about me; it's about America," the 10-term incumbent told his supporters. "I want nothing but the best for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez."
A reaction to Trump and the Democratic establishment
New York City is one of the most vibrant hotbeds of the Democratic "Resistance" in the country. And New York's 14th district, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens, is home to many of the communities who feel most at risk under President Donald Trump.
Crowley, a 56-year-old Irish-American, has represented the district for 20 years and has long reigned as the leader of the Queens Democratic machine. With deep ties to the party establishment in New York and Washington, Crowley only faced a primary challenger once, in 2004.
A young Latina with a mother from Puerto Rico and a father from the Bronx, Ocasio-Cortez is a product of her Queens-Bronx district, which includes some of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country — and possibly in the world.
"NYC is home to millions of immigrants, and millions of others whose families fled the Nazis, the terror of the American south, or persecution elsewhere," wrote New York Times editorial writer Mara Gay. "The city is deeply anxious, angry, and sad about what is happening in the country. That is the context for yesterday's election."
A socialist platform
Ocasio-Cortez ran on a deeply progressive platform — focusing her message on reducing inequality and expanding opportunity for poor and working-class New Yorkers.
Pointing to the rising economic inequality and pervasive poverty in New York City, Ocasio-Cortez is calling for Medicare for all, a federal jobs guarantee, and affordable housing, among other progressive demands.
Setting her apart from the vast majority of Democratic candidates and lawmakers, she's also calling to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency tasked with deporting undocumented immigrants that's becoming a growing target of left-wing ire.
Sean McElwee, a progressive activist and pollster who has helped popularize a movement to abolish ICE, said Ocasio-Cortez will raise the profile of the effort to new heights.
"Ocasio Cortez has the most comprehensive vision of a world without ICE of any candidate in the country," McElwee told Business Insider. "Her opponent voted to establish ICE. She promised to abolish it and investigate its abuses. At the end of the day, voters made their choice, overwhelmingly."
The insurgent challenger also rejected corporate donations. A whopping 70% of her campaign donations were under $200 — as compared to just 0.78% of Crowley's donations.
And while Crowley raised nearly $3 million for his reelection campaign — and spent about $1 million — his challenger raised just $600,000.
"Americans want a leader who's going to take a battle ax to the system and upend it," Anne Feldman, the press secretary for the campaign finance reform group End Citizens United, told Business Insider. "Candidates who reject corporate PAC money are tapping into that sentiment and showing — not telling — voters that they'll make a difference and that's leading to success at the polls."
Ocasio-Cortez, who was an organizer for Sanders during his presidential campaign, thanked her supporters late Tuesday night.
"This is the start of a movement," she tweeted. "Thank you all."
'Doors that had never been knocked on before'
Democratic strategists and Ocasio-Cortez herself attribute much of her victory to her aggressive door-to-door ground campaign.
"We won because I think we had a very clear winning message and we took that message to doors that had never been knocked on before," Ocasio-Cortez told CNN on Wednesday morning.
Just 27,658 people voted in the district's primary on Tuesday (with 98% of precincts reporting) in a district with just over 214,000 registered Democratic voters (as of April 2016). By all accounts, Ocasio-Cortez's grassroots-fueled campaign flooded the streets, knocked on doors, and hung signs for her campaign for months.
Meanwhile, Crowley, who lives in Washington, sent a surrogate to one debate to take on Ocasio-Cortez in his place.