Here’s a problem that will make Alexandria Ocasio Cortez infinitely more relatable to her base of “Democratic socialist” millennials.
Cortez – who became the youngest woman ever elected to the House on Tuesday – is preparing to take her seat as the representative for New York’s 14th Congressional district. But first, she needs to find an apartment that she can afford.
In a fawning interview with the New York Times, where Ocasio-Cortez discussed how she’s planning to balance the pressures of satisfying her progressive base with the internal pressures to conform to the Democratic Party’s agenda, the Congresswoman-elect offhandedly shared that she still hasn’t figured out “the logistics” of moving to Washington – “logistics” like finding an apartment, a task that is being made more difficult by the fact that she won’t start drawing a salary until she’s sworn in early next year.
Her situation is unusual since, before embarking on the primary campaign that led to her historic upset of Democratic leader Joe Crowley, Ocasio-Cortez had been working as a bartender at a Union Square restaurant, and, like many millennials, has been struggling to pay back her student loans.
But fortunately, Ocasio-Cortez said that she and her partner had been “squirreling away” some savings to help her smoothly transition to Washington.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said the transition period will be “very unusual, because I can’t really take a salary. I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress. So, how do I get an apartment? Those little things are very real.” She said she saved money before leaving her job at the restaurant, and planned accordingly with her partner. “We’re kind of just dealing with the logistics of it day by day, but I’ve really been just kind of squirreling away and then hoping that gets me to January.”
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said she will skip a popular postelection meeting, which begins Friday, that draws many New York Democratic politicians to Puerto Rico because it conflicts with an orientation for new congressional members. And, as she put it, “I need a minute.”
In the meantime, she’s focused on meeting with constituents, managing her twitter account and juggling the massive influx of media requests.
Campaign aides are focused on closely managing Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s time, in response to the enormous amounts of media obligations she’s had the past few months.
She’s also had a regular presence on social media, where she has more than a million followers. That’s likely to continue, along with all her appearances in Queens and in the Bronx. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said it’s vital to meet people in person, for handshakes, selfies and conversations.
“It’s not just about a photo-op,” she said. “People tell you things. And they tell you what they believe. And they tell you what they want for themselves, for you, they tell you their stories.”
While Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t committed to backing Nancy Pelosi in the Democratic leader’s bid for speaker, many of her supporters will be watching to see if Ocasio-Cortez falls in line with the Democratic leadership and backs Pelosi, or instead throws her support behind a progressive challenger.
Regardless, hopefully, by that time, she’ll have found a place to crash.