Ocasio-Cortez, 28, who is from the Bronx, is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and ran a low-budget campaign where she was outspent by an 18-1 margin.
“We have had our country on autopilot and we’ve been accepting what’s been happening,” she told Refinery29 earlier this month. “And what’s happening in this country is indicative that we need new leadership. We need new leadership in the Democratic Party and we need new leadership in the country.”
Among her issues is expanding the Medicare program to people of all ages and abolishing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She recently went to Tornillo, Texas, to protest against policies that have separated parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We beat a machine with a movement, and that is what we have done today,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Working-class Americans want a clear champion and there is nothing radical about moral clarity in 2018.”
The online site Slate compared her victory to when then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican, lost to unknown Dave Brat in 2014. The publication pointed out that now there was no clear successor to Pelosi in the event of the party taking back the House.
“In the short term, Pelosi may have crossed another potential challenger off of her list, but the bigger picture can’t be good for the existing Democratic leadership structure,” Jim Newell wrote in Slate.“Crowley, for all his accumulated power, just got taken out on the mantra of generational change. This presents an argument, for Pelosi’s detractors in the conference, that the rest of the leadership should follow suit.”
Politico wrote that although a rival to Pelosi was defeated, Ocasio-Cortez represents a “reminder of the generational demands for change at the top of the party hierarchy,” and her victory will likely send a “shudder through the moderate wing of the party.”
Pelosi ties were seen to potentially hurt some Democrats’ bid to hold the seat in the fall. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Conor Lamb vowed not to support Pelosi for speaker – and went on to win a special election in a deep-red district that President Trump carried in 2016 by 20 percentage points.