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 in line to be the next Speaker of the House, should 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.
Ocasio-Cortez looks over the crowd of demonstrators as she joins in the march down Malcom X Blvd. during a Black Lives Matter demonstration hosted by the youth of the South Bronx Community. Harlem, New York, 2017.
In the heat of the late summer in Queens, New York, Ocasio-Cortez goes door to door speaking with independent and unregistered voters of the area. Many homes kept their doors closed as the commotion rang inside. Families are fearful for their safety with the news of residents being detained by I.C.E. agents. Queens, New York, September 2017.
Ocasio-Cortez takes order at her part time restaurant job in Union Square, Manhattan in order to make ends meet.
During peak rush hour, Ocasio-Cortez commutes to the home of legendary organizers Mr. and Mrs. Whitehead in St. Albans, Queens, for some research and campaign strategy. Queens, New York, February 2018.
Ocasio-Cortez steams one of her dresses in her bathroom before starting a day full of interviews.
Ocasio-Cortez applies makeup on the way to her on air interview on NY1 in Manhattan.
Ocasio-Cortez quickly switches her footwear outside of Queens College before her talk with journalism students. Queens, New York, September 2017.
Store owners in NY14.
Portrait of political candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after her first public speech where declared her run for office. Rockville Center, New York, June 2017Rockville Center, New York, June 2017
View outside one of the buildings that make up much of neighborhood Parkchester in The Bronx. The same neighborhood Ocasio-Cortez was born and where her campaign began. The Bronx, New York, April 2018.
An Ocasio 2018 campaign supporter sits amongst the chatter of a Uruguayan restaurant in Jackson Heights, after a long day of gathering signatures for the campaign to get onto the ballot. Queens, New York, April 2018.
Ocasio-Cortez and fundraising director for her campaign Michael Carter look over maps of district NY-14 before heading to an event at Lefrak City. The event was a discussion on how the community should move forward after the Board of Elections had filed an appeal to move the polling site in Lefrak City's continental room, a location in Lefrak City that has been the communities polling site for nearly 50 years. Queens, New York, April 2018.
Ocasio-Cortez during her on air interview with Pure Política, NY1.
Ocasio-Cortez waits for her debate to begin against Congressman Joe Crowley, at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights.
Sunnyside Queens, with chalk graffiti on the day of the primary.
Ocasio-Cortez reacting to win captured at The Bronx, Queens, New York City New York on 27 Jun, 2018
After winning the primary, Ocasio-Cortez delivers a speech to the crowd.