Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old Latina who stunned 10-term incumbent Rep. Joseph Crowley in a New York congressional race on Tuesday, is pushing back against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s caution not to read too much into the results.
At a news conference Wednesday, Pelosi (D-Calif.) brushed off suggestions about a broader message sent by Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, saying, “They made a choice in one district.”
“So, let’s not get yourself carried away as an expert on demographics and the rest of that,” Pelosi told reporters. “We have an array of genders, generations, geography and the rest, opinion, in our caucus and we’re very proud of that.”
Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described Democratic socialist, was presented with a clip of Pelosi’s remarks during an appearance Wednesday night on CNN’s “Out Front” with Erin Burnett.
“Yeah, well, you know, I think that we’re in the middle of a movement in this country,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I feel this movement, but that movement is going to happen from the bottom up. That movement is going to come from voters.”
“There are a lot of really exciting races with extremely similar dynamics as mine,” she added. “It’s not just one district.”
Burnett then noted that Democratic leaders are getting up there in years.
Pelosi is 78. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) is 79. And House Assistant Minority Leader James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) is 77.
“Is that going to stay that way?” Burnett asked. “Is it time for new blood?”
“I do think that we do need to elect a generation of new people to Congress in both parties,” Ocasio-Cortez replied. “Some of the issues that we even have today may have to do with some of the calcified structures and relationships.... In certain seats where it’s appropriate, I think a new leaf can actually mean a lot of opportunity for the party and our future.”
“This is about diversity as well,” she said. “We have to have a diversity of age represented in Congress, too.”
Crowley, who immediately pledged to support Ocasio-Cortez in the fall, is 56.
At another news conference on Thursday, Pelosi called Ocasio-Cortez “lovely” and said “we look forward to her invigoration of the Congress when she comes here.”
But Pelosi held her ground on the differing makeups of Democratic congressional districts.
She said Crowley’s district and her district are similar in ideological bent. But, she added: “Many of the districts across the country are focused in a different way, and we respect that.”