If you thought it impossible that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could win her primary bid against 10-term incumbent and “Queens Machine” Joseph Crowley, up until Tuesday night around 10 p.m., you would’ve been considered realistic.
Ocasio-Cortez is a 28-year-old first-time Latina socialist candidate who was still working as a bartender just seven months ago to help support her family. At the time of her victory she’d raised just over $300,000 to Crowley’s more than $3 million. And Crowley, a veteran politician who’d gone unchallenged for 14 years, had the support of the entire Democratic establishment and was a top contender to be the next House speaker, given that Democrats regain control of the chamber in November.
In her viral campaign video, Ocasio-Cortez put it this way: “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.”
And they’re certainly not supposed to win.
Ocasio-Cortez ran on a number of major progressive platforms, calling for criminal justice reform, Medicare for All, a federal jobs guarantee, and ICE abolition—the latter of which became a crucial part of her campaign as the Trump administration began its family separation practices and Crowley refused to go so far as to call for the agency’s elimination. Her win is not the first major upset for the Democratic Party, but it is the most seismic, suggesting that voters want to turn the keys over to fresh, leftist candidates—and especially women of color—who have long been sidelined in the political arena.
When Ocasio-Cortez, surrounded by supporters, saw news of her projected win on a television screen on Tuesday night, her expression was one of genuine shock. Though she may have been stunned by her own success, however, she appears more than prepared for what’s to come.
“I look forward to working towards a take-back of the House on a strong platform of economic, social and racial justice for working class New Yorkers and Americans,” she wrote on Twitter, following her victory. “This is the start of a movement.”
All photographs by José A. Alvarado Jr. You can follow his work here.