Ayanna Pressley Defeats Longtime Representative Mike Capuano in MA Democratic Primary Upset


Ayanna Pressley, Boston city councillor and House Democratic candidate, gives a victory speech at her primary night gathering Tuesday in Boston.

In a surprise defeat that reflects a changing Democratic party, Boston City Council member Ayanna Pressley has defeated 10-term Democratic Rep. Mike Capuano in Massachusetts' 7th Congressional District.

"We won? we won?" she repeats as she looks around the room. She also would be the first person of color to ever represent the state in Congress.

Capuano was endorsed by prominent MA figures, including former Gov. Deval Patrick, the state's first black governor.

There was little difference on issues between Ms. Pressley, 44, and Mr. Capuano, 66, but Ms. Pressley played up her potential appeal to the party's emergent progressive wing. There are no Republicans on the November ballot.

She was endorsed by fellow congressional upstart Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who knocked off veteran Rep. Joe Crowley of NY in June.

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Her background is more like Gillum's than Ocasio-Cortez's: She has a long career in Boston politics. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign.

"My mother did not raise me to ask for permission to lead", she added.

But she made her background a major part of the race, highlighting the importance of boosting diversity in the Democratic Party, talking about her own experience with sexual assault, and regularly calling for more "bold, activist leadership".

Like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez's challenge to Rep. Joe Crowley, Ms. Pressley was looking to unseat a white male who'd represented for 20 years a district that was now mostly non-white.

Capuano told supporters "America is going to be OK" and said Pressley is going to be a good congresswoman. She recently earned the endorsement of the Boston Globe. It includes both Cambridge's Kendall Square - development there is booming - and the neighborhood of Roxbury, the center of Boston's traditionally black community.

In a video posted by her close friend Jesse Mermell, Pressley stands up in seeming disbelief. "I voted for Pressley because she has and will challenge polices", she said. "I happen to be black and a woman and unapologetically proud to be both, but that is not the totality of my identity".