Overcoming a flood of corporate money and New York's powerful establishment machine with tireless grassroots organizing and an ambitious progressive agenda of Medicare for All, housing as a human right, and abolishing ICE, 28-year-old democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez toppled Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in New York's 14th congressional district on Tuesday in what is being hailed as the biggest political upset of 2018.
"The message that we sent the world tonight is that it is not okay to put donors before your community."
"This is a grassroots victory, this is a testament to the power of organizing, this is a testament to the power of knocking on your neighbor's door, of picking up a phone, of believing and taking on power even though they say that it cannot be beaten," Ocasio-Cortez said following her 15-point landslide win. "Anything can be accomplished when we knock on our neighbor's door and choose to believe and stand up for our values."
With nearly every vote counted, Ocasio-Cortez defeated Crowley handily, with a margin of 57 percent to 42 percent.
"The message that we sent the world tonight is that it is not okay to put donors before your community," Ocasio-Cortez added in her victory speech late Tuesday. "The message that we sent tonight is that improved and expanded Medicare for All, healthcare for every single person in America is what we deserve as a nation."
— People For Bernie (@People4Bernie) June 27, 2018
Having never run a political campaign before deciding to take on Crowley—a Wall Street favorite viewed by many as the likely successor of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—Ocasio-Cortez was virtually unknown on the national stage until a viral campaign video and progressive journalists committed to covering her efforts brought widespread attention to her working-class background and inspiring message.
Even though Crowley outraised her by a 10-1 margin and secured the endorsements of New York Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, Ocasio-Cortez's campaign demonstrated that the barriers thrown up by the corporate-political establishment can be overcome with a "strong grassroots movement of organizers" and a bold platform.
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"He had the machine. He had the money. He had the power," wrote the advocacy group People for Bernie, highlighting the political figures and well-known organizations that dutifully lined up behind Crowley. "We had the people. Now we have the power. And we're here to stay... Welcome to the political revolution."
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) June 27, 2018
As prominent political pundits scrambled to learn about Ocasio-Cortez after ignoring her campaign and message for months, MoveOn.org's elections mobilization director Matt Blizek said the democratic socialist's victory should be a wake-up call to all complacent Democrats who believe that young progressives will stand by and let the status quo go unchallenged.
"She ran in the interest of the people, not corporate developers—Medicare for All, the abolition of ICE, affordable housing, a federal jobs guarantee, wages working families can live and thrive on."
—Nina Turner, Our Revolution
"A young, diverse, and boldly progressive resistance movement isn't waiting to be anointed by the powers that be," Blizek declared in a statement Tuesday night. "Americans from all walks of life who demand change are taking reins of power and showing the Democratic Party what its future looks like."
Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution, argued in a statement that Ocasio-Cortez's victory should be attributed to her energetic and "bold campaign built on substance."
"She ran in the interest of the people, not corporate developers—Medicare for All, the abolition of ICE, affordable housing, a federal jobs guarantee, wages working families can live and thrive on—these are the needs of the working people of New York's 14th, and Alexandria presented a bold set of proposals to serve those needs."
Ocasio-Cortez's upset win in Tuesday's primary all but guarantees that she will become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress—an achievement that she said is just the beginning.
"This is the start of a movement," Ocasio-Cortez declared on Twitter in the early hours of Wednesday morning. "Thank you all."