American politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known by her initials, AOC, is a popular member of the Democratic Party. She has been serving as New York's 14th congressional district's representative since 2019 and has gained immense attention for her progressive views.
Unlike her fellow members of Congress, the Bronx-native has a notable social media presence. She uses non-traditional platforms to talk about her views and has gained an immense following on these social media sites. As a result, people worldwide are eager to learn more about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's biography and other personal details.
Let's get to know who Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is and her journey to becoming one of the youngest women to serve in the US Congress.
Early Life And Family
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born in the New York City borough of the Bronx on the 13th of October, 1989. She comes from a working-class family as Ocasio-Cortez's father, Sergio Ocasio-Roman, was a small business owner. At the same time, her mother, Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, used to clean houses and drove school buses. Her family lived in an apartment in the Bronx till she turned five, and after this, Alexandria and her younger brother, Gabriel Ocasio-Cortez, grew up in a house in Yorktown Heights.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was raised by her Bronx-born father and Puerto Rico-born mother. Image Source: Gabriel Ocasio-Cortez Instagram.
Ocasio-Cortez's family comes from Puerto Rica as her mother was born there while her father's family is also from the Caribbean island. Due to her familial connection, the lawmaker has become a Puerto Rican activist. Alexandria's mother tongue is Spanish; however, she had to learn English in school like many first-generation immigrants in the States. While she can still speak and understand Spanish, the Congress member has to improve and keep working at it continuously.
Having grown up in a middle-class family, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows the struggles of making ends meet. She faced the same problems average Americans face, like financial troubles due to a family members' health problems. Alexandria lost her father to lung cancer in 2008 and had to fight a lengthy battle to settle his estate. These experiences have shaped her to be the woman she is today and ignited the fire to help those in need.
Education And Early Career
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attended the Yorktown High School in Yorktown Heights, New York. She graduated in 2007, the same year she placed second in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the microbiology category. She participated in the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session during high school, organized by National Hispanic Institute.
After graduating high school, Ocasio-Cortez then applied for Boston University and was accepted. However, her college experience took a sour turn since she lost her father during her second year and faced a legal battle regarding his estate. Nevertheless, she powered through and, in 2011, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations and economics.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez moved back home after graduating college. She took up jobs as bartender and waitress to help her mother fight the foreclosure of their home. She then launched the publishing firm Brook Avenue Press, which helped portray her hometown positively. She also worked at the National Hispanic Institute, a nonprofit organization, as an educator.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Political Journey
While she had no plan of running for office, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez worked for Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign as an organizer. She traveled across America to learn more about the effect the Flint water crisis and Dakota Access Pipeline had on people. This trip influenced her, and while returning home, she got a call from Brand New Congress, an organization that recruited progressive candidates to run for office in the future. She joined the organizations and thus started Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's political journey.
2018 Primary Election
Joining the Brand New Congress resulted in Alexandria competing in New York's 14th congressional district election in 2018. Ocasio-Cortez started her campaign in April 2017 while she was still tending bar and waiting tables. She challenged the incumbent representative Joe Crowley and became the first person since 2004 to do so.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated that during the campaign, she faced financial disadvantages. So her campaign took the grassroots mobilization approach and also did not accept donations from corporations. Even as a new candidate, she managed to capture the attention of progressive organizations like Democracy for American and Move On. She was also endorsed by Cynthia Nixon, an actress and fellow first-time candidate who ran against Andrew Cuomo.
To everyone's surprise, Ocasio-Cortez defeated the incumbent representative, Joe, by almost fifteen percentage points. She received 57.13% of the votes and, according to media, delivered the "biggest upset of the 2018 elections". Crowley conceded defeat but did not congratulate Alexandria for her victory. She also won the Reform Party primary without campaigning. She was a write-in candidate in New York's 15th congressional district but declined the nomination.
2018 General Election
After winning the primary election, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez faced the Republican nominee Anthony Pappas in the general election. She was endorsed by recognizable political individuals including, Senator Bernie and former President Barack Obama. Joe Crowley was also in the race as the nominee from the Working Families Party (WFP) and Women's Equality Party. However, the WFP later endorsed Ocasio-Cortez, and executive director, Dan Cantor, also apologized to her.
Alexandria won the election with 110,318 votes (78%), while Pappas had 17,762 votes. Her win was part of the Democratic Party's success in the midterm elections, and they gained control of the House of Representatives. After the victory, Ocasio-Cortez hired her campaign co-chair, Saikat Chakrabarti, as the chief of staff for her office.
Tenure As Member of House of Representative
After winning the 2018 election, Alexandria assumed office in January 2019 and made her first speech on the Congress floor the same month. While she entered the Congress with no seniority, she had support from the younger generation.
Throughout her first term as a member of the House of Representatives, Ocasio-Cortez was a part of several Congressional hearings. She questioned Michael Cohen regarding former-president Donald Trump's estate and property values. This resulted in Trump's son, Eric Trump, having to testify in New York.
Only a month after assuming office, Alexandria submitted her first piece of legislation to the Senate. Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey released Green New Deal, a proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, creating high-paying jobs, and boosting the economy. While the plan gained support from several Democratic Senators like Bernie and Elizabeth Warren, and activists groups Sunrise Movement and Greenpeace, Republicans lawmakers did not voice support.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposal Green New Deal, was supported by Senators like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Image Source: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Instagram.
Besides the Green New Deal, Ocasio-Cortez has also proposed a marginal tax of around 70% on income above $10 million. She has also supported abolishing the ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the decriminalization of immigrants. She even attended protests at ICE child-detention centers.
Also, Alexandria is a firm supporter of the single-payer healthcare system and has talked about the US government ensuring universal healthcare for its citizens. Other issues that the lawmaker has talked about and introduced policies for are anti-poverty, LGBTQ equality, and other domestic and foreign issues.
After serving for two years, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was reelected in the 2020 election. She defeated the Republican nominee, John Cummings, and is the incumbent representative for New York's 14th congressional district. Looking at her popularity among the younger generation, it won't be a surprise, is the Bronx-born politician continues to secure her position in the House of Representatives.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Net Worth
Like many Americans, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also came out of college with a degree and a $25,000 student loan. She had to pay off her debt with a $300 payment per month, which she managed by working as a bartender.
As a member of the US Congress, Ocasio-Cortez now has an annual salary of $174,000. However, in September 2019, AOC revealed that she was still paying her student-debt and had around $19,000 left on her account. It is unclear if Alexandria has cleared her debt, but since she earns $174K per year, she must be having an easier time paying it.
Also, according to Celebrity Net Worth, the popular Congresswoman receives a living expense credit of $3,000 annually and also health/insurance and retirement benefits. Since she started serving as a member of the House of Representatives, she has earned a considerable sum. And as of February 2021, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's net worth is estimated to be around $100 thousand.
In addition to her earnings as a congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's net worth might also include the income from her merchandise sales. Her campaign website has an AOC merch line, which has products ranging from t-shirts and hoodies to sticker. Some of the merch items and their respective prices are listed below:
|Support Crew Sweatshirt||$58|
|Abolish ICE Dad Hat||$28|
|Tax The Rich t-shirt||$27|
|Green New Deal Socks||$15|
|Tax The Rich Sweatshirt||$58|
|Drink Water, Don't Be Racist Stickers||$5|
|Green New Deal Bandana||$18|
|Green New Deal Enamel Pin||$10|
Since these merchandise products are available on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's campaign website, earnings from these might go to the campaigns and policies that she proposes. But the sales of these items might have been beneficial to Ocasio-Cortez's total income.
Social Media Presence
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's victory as a first-time candidate in 2018 thrust her into the spotlight. And as a young woman, she used social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to not only share her campaign diaries but also her policies. While starting her first tenure as a Congress member, she already had millions of followers on these platforms.
As of now, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has more than 8.7 million followers on Instagram and 12.1 million followers on Twitter. She also has 1.1 million followers on Facebook and has used these social media platforms as a means of communication. One such example is her regular Instagram live sessions where she talks about current stuff. In her most recent live broadcast, Ocasio-Cortez revealed that she is a survivor of sexual assault.
Apart from these platforms, AOC is also active on the streaming site Twitch. She hosted her first live stream on the site on October 20, 2020, and played the social deduction game Among US with established gamers and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Abdullahi Omar.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has continued to use her social media handles to educate the young generation about various social issues. This has helped increase her fame and also helped the users connect to her.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Relationship
While her family life and background were plastered all over the media after she won the Democratic primary election in 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's relationship and love life stayed in the shadow. However, she was already in a relationship with a web developer, Riley Roberts, while her 2018 election campaign was underway.
Unlike the Congresswoman who chose to run for office and found fame, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's boyfriend, Riley Roberts, loves his privacy. He was a huge part of Ocasio-Cortez's campaign run but was never at the forefront of the operation. Rather, the web developer played an important role in the process and became the biggest support system for the then-nominee.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met her partner, Riley Roberts, when they were at the Boston University. It is unclear when they started dating, but it was through a student town-hall they met and got to know each other. However, after graduating, the couple reportedly split, and Riley moved back home to Arizona. He then worked on web design and advertising there before rekindling his relationship with Ocasio-Cortez. He ended up moving to New York to be with her.
Since then, Riley Roberts has been a pillar of strength and support for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And Riley is also favored by his girlfriend's family. While there are no official talks about their nuptials, Alexandria's mother, Blanca, has voiced her desire to see her daughter marry Riley.
As the pair are very private about their relationship, we might not be privy to the politician and her boyfriend's big day. Nevertheless, we hope that one day we will recognize Riley as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's husband.
Trivia and Facts
- Due to her high school project about the effects of antioxidants on Caenorhabditis elegans, MIT named an asteroid named after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It is known as 23238 Ocasio-Cortez.
- She is Roman Catholic and has talked about her faith on multiple occasions.
- She and her boyfriend adopted a French bulldog in early 2020.