kids encyclopedia robot

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Official Portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 14th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded by Joe Crowley
Personal details
Born October 13, 1989 (1989-10-13) (age 31)
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Boston University (BA)
Signature
Nickname(s) "AOC"

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ( born October 13, 1989), also known by her initials as AOC, is an American politician and activist. She became the U.S. Representative for New York's 14th congressional district in 2019. This includes the eastern part of the Bronx and parts of north-central Queens in New York City. She is a member of the Democratic Party.

Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic Party's primary election on June 26, 2018 when she beat Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley. Her victory was a surprise and many saw it as an upset victory. In November 2018, she would go on to win the general election. She beat Republican nominee Anthony Pappas.

At age 29, she became the youngest woman to become a member of the United States Congress. She is well known for her use of social media. She studied international relations and economics at Boston University. She worked for Bernie Sanders's first presidential campaign as an activist. She also worked part-time as a waitress and bartender before running for Congress in 2018.

Ocasio-Cortez is one of the first female members of the Democratic Socialists of America elected to Congress. She is a progressive and supports Medicare for All, federal jobs guarantee, and the Green New Deal. She also supports ending the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, free public college and trade school, and a 70% marginal tax rate for incomes above $10 million.

Early life

Ocasio-Cortez was born into a Catholic family in the Bronx borough of New York City on October 13, 1989. She is the daughter of Blanca Ocasio-Cortez (née Cortez) and Sergio Ocasio. She has a younger brother named Gabriel. Her father was born in the Bronx to a Puerto Rican family. Her mother was born in Puerto Rico. She lived with her family in an apartment in the Bronx neighborhood of Parkchester until she was five. Her family later moved to a house in suburban Yorktown Heights.

Parkchester, Bronx (35145740091)
Ocasio-Cortez has lived in Parkchester in The Bronx for a long time.

Ocasio-Cortez went to high school in Yorktown Heights. She graduated in 2007. In high school and college, she was known as "Sandy." She came in second in the Microbiology category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Her microbiology research project was about the effect of antioxidants on the lifespan of the nematode C. elegans. MIT Lincoln Laboratory named a small asteroid after her because of her science project. In high school, she took part in the National Hispanic Institute's Lorenzo de Zavala (LDZ) Youth Legislative Session. She later became the LDZ Secretary of State while she attended Boston University. Ocasio-Cortez had a John F. Lopez Fellowship.

In 2008, while Ocasio-Cortez was a sophomore at Boston University, her father died of lung cancer. After he died, Ocasio-Cortez had many legal problems to settle his estate. She has said that the experience helped her learn how attorneys are corrupt. She said that they make themselves rich while their clients, like families, were being ignored.

During college, Ocasio-Cortez was an intern for U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. She said that she was the only Spanish speaker at the office. Ocasio-Cortez said because of this people would talk to her about ICE and deportations.

Ocasio-Cortez graduated cum laude from Boston University with a BA in 2011. She majored in international relations and economics.

Early career

Sanders rally Council Bluffs IMG 4022 (49035917128) (cropped)
Ocasio-Cortez volunteered for Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign

After college, Ocasio-Cortez moved back to the Bronx. She began working as a bartender and waitress to help her mother pay their home. She later created Brook Avenue Press, a publishing company used to print papers or books. They would print positive stories about The Bronx. She also worked for the National Hispanic Institute.

During the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, Ocasio-Cortez volunteered for Bernie Sanders's first presidential campaign. After the general election, she traveled to places like Flint, Michigan, and Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota by car. She spoke to people affected by the Flint water crisis and the Dakota Access Pipeline. While in Standing Rock, she said her trip there was an important reason why she ran for Congress. Before that, she believed that the only way to run for office and win was to have money and power. In North Dakota she saw others "putting their whole lives and everything that they had on the line for the protection of their community". This was the reason for her to begin to work for her own community. One day after she visited North Dakota, she got a phone call from Brand New Congress. They were looking for progressive candidates. Her brother had nominated her soon after the 2016 election.

2018 campaign

AOC for Congress 2018 logo
Ocasio-Cortez's congressional campaign logo

Ocasio-Cortez began her campaign in April 2017. At the time, she was working at Flats Fix, a taco restaurant in New York City's Union Square. Her campaign was small. She was the first person to run in the primary against Joe Crowley, the Democratic Caucus Chair. She did not have much money for the campaign. She said that, "You can't really beat big money with more money. You have to beat them with a totally different game." Ocasio-Cortez's campaign did not take money from big companies or rich people. She did this because it was how Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign did it. Revolutionary posters from the past inspired her campaign posters.

Ocasio-Cortez was supported by progressive and civil rights groups such as MoveOn, Black Lives Matter, and Democracy for America, and by actress Cynthia Nixon. Governor Andrew Cuomo, both of New York's U.S. Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Planned Parenthood supported Crowley. California Representative Ro Khanna at first supported Crowley, but later supported Ocasio-Cortez.

During her campaign, Ocasio-Cortez held town halls where people who lived in her congressional district would talk about political issues. She focused her campaign on Latino communities of her district and criticized ICE. Her campaign used digital political ads more than actual rallies and events. She would also go to many houses in her district and talk about her campaign in person.

Primary victory and reaction

Tax march 4170079 (cropped)
Ocasio-Cortez ran against twenty-year incumbent Joe Crowley

On June 26, 2018, Ocasio-Cortez won 57.13% of the vote to Joe Crowley's 42.5%. Time called her victory "the biggest upset of the 2018 elections so far". CNN made a similar comment. The New York Times said Crowley's shocking loss was "the [biggest] loss for a Democratic incumbent in more than a decade." The Guardian called it "one of the biggest upsets in recent American political history." Crowley raised more money, $1.5 million, compared to Ocasio-Cortez's $83,000. Merriam-Webster said that searches for the word "socialism" went up 1,500% after she won. Crowley accepted his loss but did not call Ocasio-Cortez that night to wish her good luck. Many people thought he was going to run against her in the general election with a third party.

Bernie Sanders and Noam Chomsky wished her good luck and were happy about the results. Many people said that her victory over Crowley was like when Dave Brat, a Tea Party movement candidate, beat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary in 2014. Cantor was also a longtime congressman and important Republican politician. After her primary win, Ocasio-Cortez supported many progressive candidates who decided to run against current Democratic politicians across the country.

Ocasio-Cortez won the Reform Party nomination without campaigning for it. She won it as a write-in candidate in a congressional district nearby hers. She won only nine votes. She did not accept the nomination.

General election

Kerri Evelyn Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 1
Ocasio-Cortez with a supporter in September 2018

Ocasio-Cortez ran against Republican nominee Anthony Pappas in the November 6 general election. Pappas is an economics professor at St. John's University. Ocasio-Cortez was supported by many progressive organizations and politicians, including former President Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

Joe Crowley stayed on the ballot, as the nominee of the Working Families Party (WFP) and the Women’s Equality Party (WEP). Neither Crowley nor the WFP party campaigned in the election. Both supported Ocasio-Cortez after her Democratic primary victory. Ocasio-Cortez said that the WEP was a centrist group that supported male politicians more than female politicians. Nixon ran against Governor Cuomo in the primary for New York Governor. Former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman wanted Crowley to campaign on the WFP ballot to beat Ocasio-Cortez. Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the WFP, asked voters not to vote for Crowley if his name was on the general election ballot.

Ocasio-Cortez won the election with 78% of the vote to Pappas' 14%. Crowley, on the WFP and WEP ballots, won 6.6% of the votes. Her election was part of a larger wave of Democratic victories in the 2018 midterm elections. The party won control of the United States House of Representatives.

Media coverage

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @ SXSW 2019 (46438132055) (cropped)
Ocasio-Cortez at the 2019 South by Southwest

The Young Turks (TYT) was the first media network who talked about Ocasio-Cortez and give her time to talk about her campaign. After her primary win, she quickly had media attention from everywhere in the country. A rally with Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders in Wichita had to be moved from a theater with a seating capacity of 1,500 when more people said they would go to the rally. 4,000 people went to the event, with some sitting on the floor. The New Yorker wrote that she had made Sanders's progressive ideas more popular to a larger group of people.

Ocasio-Cortez had little media attention until she beat incumbent Joe Crowley in the 2018 Democratic primary. Many commentators saw how no one paid attention to her primary campaign and called it a "media failure."

The Young Turks has continued to cover Ocasio-Cortez and defend her from political critics.

She was one of the people talked about in the 2018 Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 11/9.

Twitter user "AnonymousQ" tried to embarrass Ocasio-Cortez when they shared a video of her dancing during her college years. Many social media users defended her, and the video inspired memes. After the video was shared, Ocasio-Cortez posted a video of herself dancing to Edwin Starr's War.

In 2019, Elizabeth Warren wrote about Ocasio-Cortez for that year's Time 100. In May 2019 the documentary Knock Down the House came out on Netflix. It is about four female Democrats, without political experience, running for Congress in the 2018 midterms premiered. Ocasio-Cortez was the only one of the women in the documentary to win their election.

2020 campaign

In 2020, journalist Michelle Caruso-Cabrera ran against Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primary. After Ocasio-Cortez won the nomination, Caruso-Cabrera ran in the general election as a third party candidate. Other people running against her is Republican John Cummings, a former police officer, and Antoine Tucker, a write-in.

Ocasio-Cortez's re-election campaign was mainly focusing on workplace organizing, fighting eviction, and organizing childcare.

On October 20, 2020, Ocasio-Cortez hosted a Twitch stream of the mobile game Among Us, with fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The stream had over 400,000 viewers.

On November 4, 2020, Ocasio-Cortez won her re-election with nearly 69% of the vote to Republican John Cummings's near 31%.

United States representative, 2019–present

Tenure

On January 3, 2019, Nancy Pelosi swore in Ocasio-Cortez. Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman to become a United States Representative.

She began her career with a popular social media, following "as much social media [followers] as her fellow [newly elected] Democrats [put together]." As of February 2020, she had 6.3 million Twitter followers, up from 1.4 million in November 2018. She passed Nancy Pelosi's number of followers. By July 2019 that had risen to almost 4.8 million, or about seven times the population of her congressional district. She had 2.2 million Instagram followers, and 500,000 followers on Facebook when she began. Some Representatives asked her to teach them social media lessons when she arrived in Congress.

In an interview Ocasio-Cortez said she had stopped using her private Facebook account and was not using all of her social media accounts as often. She believes that social media is a "public health risk."

Ocasio-Cortez is a member a group of new progressive members of Congress called "The Squad" along with Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). In July 2019, President Donald Trump attacked the Squad in a tweet, saying that they should "go back and help fix" the countries they came from instead of criticizing the American government. Ocasio-Cortez replied that "the President's words [yesterday], telling four American Congresswomen of color "go back to your own country," is [the] language of white supremacists. We don't leave the things that we love, and when we love this country, what that means is that we [find] the solutions to fix it."

AOC-office-postitnotes
Ocasio-Cortez's congressional office covered with sticky notes from supporters

Trump falsely said that she called "our country and our people 'garbage'"; she had actually said that Americans should not be happy with average ideas that are "10% better from garbage." Trump also falsely claimed that she said "illegal immigrants are more American" than Americans who tried to keep them out. She actually said that "women and children on that border that are trying to [find] refuge and opportunity" in America "are acting more American" than those who tried to keep them out.

In January 2020, Ocasio-Cortez created a political action committee called Courage to Change. Courage to Change was created to help progressive candidates running for office.

Arrival

In November 2018, on the first day of congressional orientation, Ocasio-Cortez was part of a climate change protest outside of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office. Also that month, she supported Pelosi becoming Speaker of the House. She said would support Pelosi if Pelosi "remains the most progressive candidate for speaker." She also said that all the other candidates for speaker were more conservative than Pelosi was. Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives after the Democratic Party gained the majority.

In December 2018, Ocasio-Cortez went to an event for new members of the House hosted by the John F. Kennedy School of Government. She wrote on Twitter about the effects of business interests by groups such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here. Where's labor? Activists? Frontline community leaders?"

In January 2019, when she made her first speech on the floor of Congress, C-SPAN tweeted the video. Within 12 hours, the video of her four-minute speech set the record as C-SPAN's most-watched Twitter video by a member of the House of Representatives.

Hearings

Ocasio-Cortez questioned the ethic regulations that both the president and members of Congress had during a congressional hearing in February 2019. She said that no regulations stop lawmakers "from being bought off" by rich business people. With more than 37.5 million views, the clip became the most-watched political video posted on Twitter.

When President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen was at a Congressional hearing in February 2019, Ocasio-Cortez asked him whether Trump had risen property values for bank or insurance purposes. Cohen said that Trump may have done tax evasion and fraud in his personal and business tax returns and real-estate documents. The New York Times supported her for "laying down specific questions for specific [answer]."

Media coverage

Face detail, Nancy Pelosi with Rep AOC at the Speaker's Room (cropped)
Ocasio-Cortez with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, June 2019

According to reports in March 2019, Ocasio-Cortez continued to get media coverage early in her congressional career similar to a 2020 presidential candidate. She was called "one of the faces of the Democratic party" and one of the most talked-about politicians in the United States. Between July 8 and July 14, 2019, she had more social media attention than any of the Democratic presidential candidates, with news articles on Ocasio-Cortez had 4.8 million views, while no Democratic presidential candidate got more than 1.2 million.

Ocasio-Cortez has been talked about many times on Fox News, being mentioned every day from February 25 to April 7, 2019, for a total of 3,181 mentions in 42 days. CNN found that from January to July 2019, she had nearly three times as many mentions on Fox News as on CNN and MSNBC. In a CBS News poll of almost 2,100 people found that more Republicans talked about Ocasio-Cortez than Democrats. She was very unpopular among Republicans and very popular among Democrats.

In March 2019, PolitiFact reported that she is "one of the most targeted politicians for hoax claims, despite the fact that she just entered Congress as a freshman." Fake quotes, fake photos, and false rumors about her have spread on social media.

On July 18, 2019, Charlie Rispoli, a police officer from Gretna, posted on Facebook a threat to shoot her. He called her an "idiot" who "needs a round, and I don't mean the kind she used to serve" as a bartender. Rispoli posted the comment in response to a "fake news" article that falsely quoted Ocasio-Cortez as saying "We pay soldiers too much." Rispoli was fired for his post and his Facebook account was deleted.

Green New Deal

On February 7, 2019, Ocasio-Cortez wrote her first piece of legislation, the Green New Deal, and sent it to the Senate. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts supported the deal, laying out the main ideas of a 10-year economic plan that would slowly remove fossil fuel use. The plan would create jobs and boost the economy. The first version of the Green New Deal wanted the completely stop using fossil fuels. The plan set a goal of having the United States "creating 'net-zero' greenhouse gases in 10 years." Ocasio-Cortez said that "We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast."

Ocasio-Cortez wanted a marginal tax as high as 70% on income above $10 million to pay for the Green New Deal. Tax experts said in The Washington Post, that this tax would bring in more money of $720 billion every decade. She used the Modern Monetary Theory as a reason for higher deficits to pay her agenda. She said that the Green New Deal needs a large amount of money like President Franklin D. Roosevelt's original New Deal during the Great Depression.

Not one Republican supported the Green New Deal. The plan had support from some Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker. Other Democrats, such as Senator Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not support it. Pelosi called it "the green dream, or whatever they call it."

On March 26, Senate Republicans called for an early vote on the Green New Deal without letting anyone talk before the vote. Senator Ed Markey said Republicans were trying to "make a mockery" of the Green New Deal debate and called the vote a "sham." In protest, Senate Democrats voted "present" or against the bill, resulting in a 57–0 defeat on the Senate floor. In March 2019, a group of activists, inspired by Ocasio-Cortez, in the United Kingdom wanted the Labour Party to create a similar plan, "Labour for a Green New Deal."

In May 2020, Ocasio-Cortez was picked by then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to be in charge of his climate task force. Ocasio-Cortez would help Biden's campaign talk about climate change related problems and solutions.

2020 Democratic National Convention

In early August 2020, two weeks before the 2020 Democratic National Convention was to be held, people began to say that Democrats were not going to let Ocasio-Cortez speak at the convention. On August 10, the Democratic National Committee said that she would speak at the convention on the second day on August 18. The same day, she formally nominated Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Committee assignments

Political views

Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and supports the democratic socialist name of the group as part of her political beliefs. In an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, she said that democratic socialism is a "part of what I am. It's not all of what I am. And I think that that's a very important [difference]." During an interview on PBS, she was asked if democratic socialism would to end capitalism, and she answered: "we are marching towards progress on this issue. I do think that we are going to see a [change] in our economic system of an [unknown level], and it's hard to say what direction that that takes."

Bernie & AOC
Ocasio-Cortez with Senator Bernie Sanders, December 2018

Ocasio-Cortez supports progressive policies such as single-payer Medicare for All, tuition-free public college and trade school, a federal job guarantee which would make sure states would hire unemployed workers, the cancellation of all $1.6 trillion student debt, guaranteed family leave, ending U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and private prisons, creating safer gun-control policies, and energy policy that would use 100% renewable energy. She told Anderson Cooper that she supports policies like those in United Kingdom, Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

Ocasio-Cortez supported Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential election and appeared with him at campaign rallies. In January 2020, she and director Michael Moore replaced Sanders at a rally at the University of Iowa while he was at the Senate's impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Ocasio-Cortez wants more environmental politicians in Congress. She called climate change "the single biggest national security threat" for the United States and the world". With the United Nations saying that the effects of climate change cannot be fixed until carbon emissions are slowed down in the next 12 years. She said that the younger generation would suffer from the effects of climate change.

GreenNewDeal Presser 020719 (7 of 85) (46105849995) (cropped)
Ocasio-Cortez with Senator Ed Markey talking about the Green New Deal, February 2019

Ocasio-Cortez supports ending the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. She compared the agency to the Patriot Act and to a paramilitary-like agency. In June 2018, she said she would support ending the agency and she would rather "create a pathway to citizenship for more immigrants through decriminalization." She later said that this does not mean ending all deportations. Two days before the primary election, she went to a protest at an ICE child-detention center in Tornillo, Texas. She was the only Democrat to vote against H.R. 648, a bill to fund and reopen the government, because it would give more federal money to ICE.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @ Women's March NYC (46115223655)
Ocasio-Cortez at the 2019 New York City Women's March

Ocasio-Cortez supports moving to a single-payer health care system. She said that medical care is a human right. In September 2019, she created an anti-poverty policy proposal that would make the cost of childcare, health care, and "new necessities" like Internet access when measuring poverty. The proposal would stop rent prices going higher and create better ways for people with convictions and immigrants to have social welfare programs.

Ocasio-Cortez is a supporter of LGBTQ rights and equality. She has said she supports the LGBTQ community and thanked its members for their role in her campaign. In January 2019, she gave a speech in support of laws needed to keep LGBTQ rights in jobs and everywhere in the country. She has also made a point of raising awareness for transgender rights, saying, "It's a no-brainer ... trans rights are civil rights are human rights."

Ocasio-Cortez has been supportive of Puerto Rico. Ocasio-Cortez did not approve of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's response to Hurricane Maria. She believes the federal government should pay more attention to Puerto Rico.

Awards

The MIT Lincoln Laboratory named the asteroid 23238 Ocasio-Cortez after her when she was a senior in high school because she finished in second-place in the 2007 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. She was named the 2017 National Hispanic Institute Person of the Year by Ernesto Nieto. In 2019, She received the Adelle Foley Award. She was named as one of the 2019 BBC 100 Women.

Personal life

After the death of Ocasio-Cortez's father in 2008, her mother and grandmother moved to Florida because of money problems. She still has family in Puerto Rico, where her grandfather was living in a nursing home before he died during Hurricane Maria.

Ocasio-Cortez talked about her Catholic faith and why it is important for her life and her campaign for criminal justice reform in an article she wrote for America. At a December 2018 Hanukkah celebration in New York, she said that she has Jewish ancestry, although she does not practice Judaism.

During the 2018 election campaign, Ocasio-Cortez lived in Parkchester, Bronx, with her boyfriend, web developer Riley Roberts.

In 2019, Ocasio-Cortez was named as one of the 2019 BBC 100 Women.

In 2020, Ocasio-Cortez was a guest judge on an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race.

Electoral history

2018 New York's 14th congressional district Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 16,898 56.7
Democrat Joseph Crowley (incumbent) 12,880 43.3
Total votes 29,778 100.0
2018 New York's 14th congressional district general election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 110,318 78.2
Republican Anthony Pappas 19,202 13.6
Working Families Joseph Crowley 8,075 5.7
Women's Equality Joseph Crowley 1,273 0.9
Total Joseph Crowley (incumbent) 9,348 6.6
Conservative Elizabeth Perri 2,254 1.6
Total votes 141,122 100.0
Democrat hold

Images for kids

kids search engine
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.