Ocasio-Cortez victory among the top political upsets of 2018

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, shocked the political world over the summer by defeating longtime Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary – and has captured headlines ever since.

But Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the only person to have pulled off head-turning, surprise victories in elections across the country over the last year.

Read on for a look at the top political upsets of 2018.

New York’s 14th congressional district

Winner: Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-identified Democratic socialist running for New York’s 14th congressional district, campaigned on Medicare for all, free college tuition and the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The congressman she surprisingly defeated – incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley – had been mentioned as a possible future speaker of the House.

In the general election against Republican Anthony Pappas, Ocasio-Cortez made a series of gaffes throughout her campaign -- stumbling when asked whether she considered House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the leader of the House Democrats; claiming that unemployment was low “because everyone has two jobs,” and stumbling over her strategy over how to fund Medicare for all.

However, in defeating Pappas in November, Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress.

Utah's 4th congressional district

Winner: Democrat Ben McAdams

Utah's Mia Love was cheered as a rising star in the GOP when she became the first black Republican woman elected to Congress with her 2014 victory.

But Ben McAdams, a Democratic mayor of Salt Lake County, defeated Love by fewer than 700 votes in a back-and-forth race that took two weeks to sort out in deep-red Utah.

A day after the midterm elections, Trump famously dinged the Republican for not embracing him more in her race, saying “Mia Love gave me no love and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.”

Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial primary

Winner: Bill Lee

Republican businessman Bill Lee in the final gubernatorial debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., in October 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, Pool, File)

Republican businessman Bill Lee in the final gubernatorial debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., in October 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, Pool, File)

Underdog conservative outsider Bill Lee upset a crowded field of well-funded, better-known candidates to win Tennessee's Republican gubernatorial primary in August, sending shockwaves through a state where he was down double-digits in polls ahead of the vote. U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who had the endorsement of Vice President Mike Pence, was seen as the clear favorite in the race.

Lee, a businessman whose poll numbers surged dramatically in the last week of the campaign, took advantage of infighting among his rivals, as he traveled the state and touted his Christian values.

Lee went on to beat former Nashville mayor Karl Dean in November.

Indiana Senate Republican primary

Winner: Mike Braun

Mike Braun, a lesser-known former state legislator who poured his own money into the race, defeated two sitting Republican congressmen, Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, in May's Republican primary.

Braun spent millions on ads arguing he’s an outsider, but his primary rivals attacked him over records indicating he voted in Democratic primaries until 2012.

Braun went on to defeat incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November.

Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary

Winner: Andrew Gillum

The Bernie Sanders-backed Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum pulled off a major upset in August in defeating a half a dozen rivals, including former Rep. Gwen Graham, in Florida’s Democratic primary.

But the upset was short-lived -- Gillum ultimately lost the general election in November.

Republican Ron DeSantis relentlessly attacked the progressive views of Gillum, who was angling to be the state's first black governor, in one of the most closely-watched races in the country. Questions also were raised about Gillum's connections to people caught up in an FBI probe of corruption in Tallahassee, the city led by Gillum.

Gillum, who conceded on Election Night only to retract his concession later, acknowledged defeat more than a week afterwards once returns showed DeSantis winning with a lead of more than 33,683 votes.

Texas 32nd congressional district race

Winner: Democrat Colin Allred

Incumbent Rep Pete Sessions, R-Texas, joined by his wife Karen in Dallas after conceding the House race to Democratic challenger and first-time candidate Colin Allred in November 2018. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter, File)

Incumbent Rep Pete Sessions, R-Texas, joined by his wife Karen in Dallas after conceding the House race to Democratic challenger and first-time candidate Colin Allred in November 2018. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter, File)

Texas Republican Rep. Pete Sessions had served in Congress since 2003, rising to the chair the House Rules Committee and lead the National Republican Congressional Committee, working to elect Republicans across the country.

However, in 2018, Sessions couldn’t save his own seat.

He was defeated by Democrat Colin Allred in Texas’ 32nd District. Allred, a former NFL player with the Tennessee Titans, previously served as a Housing and Urban Development Department official during the Obama administration.

Fox News’ Gregg Re, Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.