“Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office” she said in a biographical video that went viral last month (more than 500’000 views). But Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not interested in what the political establishment thought she was supposed to do. As a matter of fact, the political establishment never really cared about her until last Tuesday. Even Mr. Trump tweeted “That is a big one that nobody saw happening”. Mistake. Big mistake. With more than 57% of the vote, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has defeated Joseph Crowley in the New York Primary for Queens and Bronx (14th District). Mr. Crowley is the fourth most powerful Democrat in the House of Representatives of the United States. He was not supposed to lose: the last time he had a primary challenger, in 2004, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was not old enough to vote. If elected in the November general election when she will be opposed to the Republican candidate Anthony Pappas, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is 28 years old, will be the youngest member of Congress. She is a millennial, liberal, of Puerto Rican origin, member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and she has worked for Ted Kennedy and for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid. She proposes to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, to extend Medicare as health coverage to all citizens, and to enforce gun control and assault weapon ban, among various issues.
So no wonder she makes the political establishment nervous. On the Democratic side, her victory is forcing the party to rethink the succession of Nancy Pelosi, who is 78, as leader of the Democratic Congress. Mr. Crowley, 56, and the only top-ranked Democrat under the age of 70, was seen as a top contender. Now, it could be difficult to replace Ms. Pelosi with an older, white male politician (read the insightful NYT Millennial Socialists are coming). On the Republican side, Mitch McConnell, the senior US Senator, has said that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s victory pushes the Democratic Party even more left, like a “European socialist country”. The truth is that her victory could be an indication that the old labels may not work anymore, and that the moment has come to oppose ideas with ideas, not with slogans and stale rhetoric. To start, Mr. Pappas who Ms. Ocasio-Cortez will face in November, is a 72-year-old economics and finance professor. His campaign has no website or Facebook page and he has not filed with the Federal Elections Commission to accept donations. So far, Mr. Pappas has never clearly mentioned his vision, not even on immigration. In the 14th District, which covers parts of Queens and the Bronx, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 6-1 margin and Latinos constitute more than half of the district’s population. A Republican bid could be a long shot.