How AOC went from a bartender to a lawmaker

By: Elizabeth Woxland

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Less than two years ago Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (known by her initials AOC) was a bartender in Manhattan. Today, she is the 28-year-old democratic socialist who unseated 10-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley (this also made her the youngest woman elected to Congress).

A brief bio of AOC, as reported by The New York Times reads:

She was born in the Bronx where half of the residents are immigrants, and 70 percent are people of color. AOC grew up with two working-class parents Her mother was born in Puerto Rico, and her father was from the South Bronx. She went to Boston University, where she studied economics and international relations. After graduation she took up bartending and waitressing jobs. The primary, in June 2018, was Ocasio-Cortez’s first run for office, but she had experience in politics. In college she worked for Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts on immigration issues, and she was an organizer for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign. AOC promoted Medicare for everyone, tuition-free college, criminal justice reform and ending private prisons. She also supports immigration reform, specifically abolishing ICE. At the time, AOC argued that Crowley — a 56-year-old white man— couldn’t properly connect with this diverse district.

AOCs journey to become elected to Congress was not easy. According to Business Insider, Crowley had not faced a primary challenger in 14 years. He also had raised nearly $3 million for his re-election campaign and spent about $1 million, while AOC raised just $600,000. Since AOC rejected corporate donations, over 70% of her campaign donations were under $200, compared with 0.78% of Crowley’s.

Yet, AOC put in the time to introduce and make herself heard. Democratic strategists and AOC herself attribute a lot 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.”  In comparison Crowley, who lives in Washington, sent a surrogate to one debate to take on AOC in his place.

AOC won the Democratic Party’s primary election for New York’s 14th Congressional District on June 26, 2018, which soon would lead her to representing New York’s 14th District in the midterms, and becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

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