Who Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seemed like an unlikely candidate to take on Joseph Crowley, one of the most powerful Democrats in New York City and in Congress. But the twenty-eight-year-old bartender from the Bronx wanted to make a difference. She passionately believed that everyone should have health care and that climate change was the most urgent fight of our time.
She had walked the neighborhoods of Queens and the Bronx, trying to convince people that it was time for a change. She believed that it was time for their neighborhoods to be represented by someone who actually lived in their district, not in Washington, DC, and that it was time for them to be represented by someone who was more like them. She knew what it was like to work hard all day, as she had at restaurants in Manhattan. Alexandria—Alex to her friends—was a young, working--class Latina from one of the most ethnically diverse areas of New York City.
On the night of June 26, 2018, Alex wasn’t expected to win the primary election. Most people thought she didn’t have a chance. At one of their debates, Crowley had even congratulated her for bringing in “new energy” to the race, as if the result had already been decided. No one had even bothered to run against Representative Crowley for the last fourteen years. And now it was almost 9:00 p.m. The voting had ended. Alex got into the back seat of a car and prepared to watch her campaign for a seat in the US House of Representatives come to an end.
Alex’s boyfriend, Riley Roberts, parked the car. They started walking toward the campaign party. Win or lose, most campaign workers gather on the night of an election to wait out the results and celebrate, even if it’s just their own hard work they are cheering for. As they passed by some large windows in the pool hall where the party was being held, Alex caught sight of TVs playing the news. She screamed and ran to the front door.
The security guard there tried to stop her. Alex pointed to a campaign poster and cried, “It’s me! It’s me! That’s me on the poster!” He stepped aside, and she rushed in.
The crowd roared and cheered. Alex gasped and put her hand to her mouth as she looked up at the screens. A TV reporter put a microphone in front of her, asking if she could put into words how she felt right then.
Alex paused for a moment, then said, “Nope. I cannot put this into words.” She had won. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx, had defeated Joseph Crowley. She was on her way to Congress.
Copyright © 2021 by Penguin Random House LLC.; Illustrated by Manuel Gutierrez. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.