NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Landing a major political upset, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez now finds herself in a bid to become the next representative from New York, after defeating U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley in the House Democratic primary for District 14.
The shock of her victory was written on her face Tuesday night at the results came in.
“Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office,” she said. “I wasn’t born to wealthy and powerful family.”
Crowley had been considered a potential successor to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.
District 14 covers parts of the Bronx and Queens, where census numbers show the population is nearly half Hispanic — very different from when Crowley first took office 20 years ago, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
Ocasio-Cortez grew up in the Bronx and studied economics and international relations at Boston University. She has never before held political office and ran much of her campaign while working as a bartender at Flats Fix in Union Square.
“It was really grassroots organizing,” she told Grymes. “We knocked on doors that had never been knocked on before. We knew that if we talked to people that had never been engaged or invited to the electorate that maybe they would show up.”
Experts say she may be a novice, but she ran a spirited campaign against an opponent who took the campaign for granted, especially considering she was outspent 18 to 1.
“I think we’re entering the era of authenticity, and we’re entering the era of the every person who can rise up and do something like this,” Democratic political consultant Bradley Honan said.
In a viral campaign video, Ocasio-Cortez showed off the upbringing that shaped her self-described “democratic-socialist” views: She believes in Medicare for all, an end mass incarceration and the war on drugs and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
“It gets the themes right, it’s shot beautifully,” said David Birdshell, of Baruch College.
“I feel so happy. We need somebody fierce like that — a woman,” Bronx voter Marcy White said.
Ocasio-Cortez went to the border to protest the separation of children and families. She also worked for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
In a statement, Sen. Sanders congratulated Ocasio-Cortez for taking on “the entire local Democratic establishment” and “demonstrating once again what progressive grassroots politics can do.”
For his part, Crowley was gracious in defeat, saying he looks forward to supporting Ocasio-Cortez in November. She’s considered a favorite to win the general election.
In other races Tuesday night, incumbent Staten Island congressman Dan Donovan won a fierce challenge from the man he replaced in the 11th District Republican primary.
Former congressman Michael Grimm had hoped to make a comeback after pleading guilty to tax fraud in 2015, but he lost by almost a two-to-one margin.
Donovan will face the Democratic nominee, former army combat veteran and healthcare executive Max Rose.