Pressley stuns political establishment with victory in Boston’s 7th District

September 6, 2018

On September 4, Ayanna Pressley joined the cadre of progressive Democratic women who are winning over voters nationwide. The first African-American woman elected to the Boston City Council in 2009, Pressley now has made history again—defeating Representative Michael Capuano (D-7th District), a ten-term incumbent heavily backed by the political establishment.

According to a September 4 report by Michael Levenson of The Boston Globe,with no Republican in the race, Pressley, 44, is poised to become the first woman of color from Massachusetts to serve in the U.S. House, in a storied district that, although reconfigured, was once represented by John F. Kennedy and the legendary Speaker of the House Thomas   P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr.

Pressley’s victory over Capuano, a 66-year-old down-the-line liberal first elected to Congress in 1998, “represents a generational, gender, and racial shift in Boston politics, and an upending of the wait-your-turn ethos that has pervaded the Democratic Party locally and statewide,” Levenson said.

Pressley won with an unofficial 63.8% of the votes. However, Capuano saw the loss coming—and reportedly capitulated with barely 13% of the votes counted. In conceding the election, the long-time politician said, ““I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but this is life, and this is OK. America is going to be OK. Ayanna Pressley is going to be a good congresswoman and Massachusetts will be well-served.”

A now-viral video captured Pressley’s emotional reaction to the news that she had won.

 “It’s a new day,” Alfreda Harris, a veteran African-American activist and former Boston School Committee member from Roxbury, told the Globe. “Younger people are getting involved in politics, and, particularly, black women. It’s good for the country and it’s good for the state of Massachusetts.”

While Pressley and Capuano had agreed on most issues, she argued that it was “not a profile in courage” to have a progressive record in a deep-blue district. She vowed to bring “activist leadership” that reflected the take-it-to-the-streets mood of voters who are marching for gun control, immigrant rights, and women’s rights in the Trump era.

With her refrain, “The people closest to the pain should be closest to the power,” she evoked the #MeToo movement and cemented her case with the voters.

Despite broad support from major political figures, Capuano was unable to secure endorsements from the state’s two US senators, Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, who remained publicly neutral. Attorney General Maura T. Healey backed Pressley.

Research contactmichael.levenson@globe.com

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