Ayanna Pressley, a Boston city councilor who ran as a progressive activist, ousted 10-term Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano Tuesday in a Massachusetts House primary.
In June, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Boston University alumna, defeated incumbent Congressman Joseph Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District.
Pressley, who will not face a Republican challenger in November, becomes the first African-American woman elected to Congress from the Commonwealth.
“America is going to be OK”, he said. “In the case of Ocasio-Cortez, she’s had a lot of support behind her, and it’s hard to tell how much was driven by media narrative or whether these are just local dynamics”. Capuano – along with the entire MA congressional delegation – supports the “Blue Lives Matter” bill, making assaulting a police officer a federal crime.
Massachusetts’ last Democratic primary upset came in 2014, when Seth Moulton defeated Rep. John Tierney in the state’s 6th Congressional District.
U.S. Representative Richard Neal, the 69-year-old ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, now in his 15th two-year term, held off a challenge by 44-year-old lawyer Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, a Muslim who was endorsed by Our Revolution, a progressive group that grew out of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Democratic presidential campaign. And, David, to me what was really interesting is this is yet another sign of sort of the strength that we’ve seen of African-American female candidates. With about 99 percent of precincts reporting, she had captured 59 percent of the vote to Capuano’s 41 percent.
Capuano’s defeat means MA loses a senior member of the U.S. House who would have had substantial clout should Democrats win in November. “This is about just what kind of party the Democratic Party wants to be”.
Pressley’s activism around gender and economic equality have been largely informed by her own experiences, but she said she is eager to engage those with different experiences and ideas.
Social worker Rashida Tlaib and former Somali refugee Ilhan Omar won Democratic primaries in MI and Minnesota respectively, putting them on course to become the first Muslim women elected to Congress. The movement is also remolding the Democratic Party into a younger, more diverse and decidedly liberal party.
The 7th District encompasses Boston’s residential neighborhoods and its surrounding suburbs, with large Hispanic, black and Asian populations, and is the state’s only majority-minority district. Her fellow Democrats, establishment or progressive, will need to win 23 seats to take back the House of Representatives.
The Boston Globe brought up the fact that Pressley – a woman of color – represents a new generation of Democratic leaders.
“Change is coming and the future belongs to all of us”, Pressley told wildly cheering supporters Tuesday night.
One of her go-to lines, said at a recent campaign event in Cambridge, was that “we might vote the same way but we will lead differently”. But Republicans will use the rise of the left – and its support for policies like single-payer health care and scrapping U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – to tar all Democratic candidates. And while it’s focused generally on helping working- and middle-class households, it’s decidedly not the wish list of the grassroots left.
“There has been a tendency of wanting to turn this into a Democratic Tea Party”, Dyck said, referring to the fractious, populist wave of Republicans elected to Congress in 2010.