But Ms. Ocasio-Cortez would be the first to tell you that she hails from a long line of defiant, outspoken congresswomen from New York. (And, of course, they aren’t just New Yorkers; Lori Lightfoot is preparing to be the first African-American woman and first openly gay person to serve as Chicago’s mayor, running largely as an outsider candidate.) As the saying goes, history never repeats itself, but it often rhymes.
The story is in the photos from The New York Times archive. Beginning with Ruth Baker Pratt, who won her house seat in 1929, a series of New York women would fight their way onto Capitol Hill, defying expectations and breaking down barriers. Next came Edna Kelly, Brooklyn’s first congresswoman, who, among other things, helped establish the principle of equal pay for equal work.
Gov. Mario Cuomo said of Ms. Abzug in 1998, “She was a New Yorker, and for a New Yorker, any day without a really good fight is regarded as a lost opportunity.” He was right: Whether navigating the A train or pushing through rush hour traffic in Midtown, you can’t make it in New York without learning to throw a few elbows. The same goes for stepping into a national political arena dominated and designed by men.
Time and again, women candidates have been met with derision or dismissed as “long shots” — in many cases, both.