Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has won election to the House, easily fending off a challenge from Republican Anthony Pappas in a heavily Democratic district that encompasses parts of Queens and the Bronx.

The win puts Ocasio-Cortez in the history books: at 29 years of age, she is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, a mark previously held by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who came to Washington in 2015 at age 30.

“This is what is possible when everyday people come together in the collective realization that all our actions, no matter how small or how large, are powerful, worthwhile and capable of lasting change,” Ocasio-Cortez said during her victory speech late Tuesday night.

Although the contest was never close, Pappas’s campaign was rattled in the closing days, when the Republican candidate revealed that his former wife had taken out a restraining order against him amid accusations of domestic violence. The news prompted local GOP leaders to rescind their support just as voters were heading to the polls.{mosads}

Ocasio-Cortez’s arrival in Washington will be closely watched. Among the Democratic freshman, she is the unquestionable superstar — a Hispanic liberal activist who’s never held political office and yet ousted one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill with a populist message à la Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

She stunned the nation — and Democrats — when she rose from obscurity to topple Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a June primary. Victory in the general election was all but assured.

Her victory over Crowley was a reflection of shifting demographics in certain urban districts, but also revealed a keen new hunger for generational change and fresh ideas within the restive Democratic Party. Along with Ayanna Pressley, who upset 10-term Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) in a similarly stunning summer primary, Ocasio-Cortez ran a bare-bones, grass-roots campaign hinging on a promise to ignore corporate interests and fight the machine politics many liberals have accused the Democrats of adopting.

The win, while angering some of Crowley’s supporters in the Capitol, launched Ocasio-Cortez to instant liberal stardom. It also escalated a broader debate among Democrats about the direction of the party: Should Democrats, in the age of Trump, veer left and embrace the liberal populist message of Sanders? Or should they shift to the center in an effort to broaden the party’s appeal in heartland districts carried by Trump? 

Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist, has made clear she’s in the former camp. Her campaign message included vows to fight for single-payer health care, the elimination of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, free college tuition and a universal, government-backed jobs guarantee. More recently, she has called the impeachment of President Trump a “no-brainer.”

Those positions have heartened her progressive supporters, both on and off the Hill. But they’re also universally opposed by the current crop of Democratic leaders, setting the stage for potential clashes within the party when Ocasio-Cortez arrives next year. 

Updated: Nov. 7 at 3:40 a.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Elise Stefanik midterm elections New York New York progressives

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