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Democratic candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress with a win in New York’s 14th congressional district on Tuesday, multiple outlets have reported. She is 29.
Ocasio-Cortez defeated Republican candidate Anthony Pappas during Tuesday’s midterm elections. She received backing by progressive supporters and strong criticism from opponents due to her views as a Democratic Socialist.
Speaking at her victory party on Tuesday night, Ocasio-Cortez referenced her progressive political beliefs and urged her supporters to keep fighting despite high-profile Democratic losses on Tuesday night.
“We launched this campaign because in the absence of anyone giving a clear voice on the moral issues of our time, it is up to us to voice them,” Ocasio-Cortez began. “We launched this campaign because no one was clearly and authentically talking about issues like the corrupting role of money in politics, like the disturbing human-rights violations being committed by ICE, by the fact that no one was giving voice to the idea and the notion that an entire generation is graduating with crippling loads of student loan debt, a ticking time bomb for our economy. No one was talking about these issues. And when no one talks about them, we have the duty to stand up for what is right.”
Ocasio-Cortez also framed Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke’s loss not as a setback but as progress in a longer fight, telling supporters to “realize that these short-term losses do not mean that we have lost in the long run.”
“In 2018 we turned the state of Texas purple. That’s what we did this year,” she said. “That is what Beto O’Rourke accomplished this year. And that is a great position to be in going into 2020.”
She added, “We can be confident that what we are standing up for is what is right. And we will never be ashamed for fighting for what is right. We will never be ashamed for losing in the short-term or having a short-term loss in order to have a lifelong gain. We will never be ashamed of that. These struggles that we are taking on are generational. These struggles that we are taking on are long. These struggles will not be solved in two years or four years. It will take our whole lives. This is the fight for our lives. This is the fight of our lives. Because today is a milestone. But it is really a beginning. It is truly a beginning. And in order for us to get there and I always believe that we can get there faster than we can, faster than we think, we have to keep organizing, we cannot stop. Electoral politics is just a tool in a larger toolbox of this movement.”
In what seemed like an allusion to Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric towards the end of the midterm election cycle, when he at one point indicated that U.S. troops could return fire if migrants threw rocks at them at the U.S. border, Ocasio-Cortez said, “If we are going to turn this ship around as country, it is not good enough to throw a rock at our neighbor’s yard. We need to clean up our own house.”
Ocasio-Cortez shocked observers when she ousted longtime incumbent congressman Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary on June 26. Her victory in the general election in a heavily Democratic district seemed likely after that but became official on Tuesday night. Speaking about her primary win on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert just days later, she said, she thought her victory was due to her campaign targeting unlikely voters.
“I don’t think polling is always right,” she said. “People try to identify who’s the most likely person to turn out and what we did is that we changed who turns out.”
The self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist is just one of a record number of women who were elected to the House of Representatives on Tuesday night. Additionally, Tuesdays results will send a pair of Native American congresswomen as well as two Muslim congresswomen to the House while Massachusetts and Connecticut will send black women to Congress as firsts for their states.
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