Ayanna Pressley Wins House Primary in Massachusetts, Defeating Longtime Incumbent Democrat 


Update, 10:40 pm: Jesse Mermell tweeted a video of the emotional moment when Pressley first learned of her victory.

Pressley, who will be unopposed in November, will become the first black Representative from Massachusetts.

As noted by several commenters, it’s worth pointing out that Capuano was one of the most progressive Democrats in Congress. He voted against going to war in Iraq, supported labor unions, and opposed President George W. Bush’s tax cuts.

Original story continues below:

Incumbent Representative Michael Capuano conceded to challenger Ayanna Pressley Tuesday night in another shocking upset win for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Capuano, who was elected in 1998, served ten terms as the representative for Massachusetts 7th congressional district. Last month polls showed him with a double digit lead over Pressley, whose base of young, minority voters are often not expected to turn out. She will now run unopposed in the heavily Democratic district.

Pressley ran her primary campaign as a leftist in a similar mold to breakout progressive candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was also supported by the electoral activist group Justice Democrats. Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, who has never served in government, Pressley has already held office for eight years as a Boston City Councilor. Her platform includes support for medicare for all, tuition-free public college, stricter gun control, decreasing military spending, ending mass incarceration, equal pay for women, and supporting victims of sexual assault.

“I think peoples’ openness to a disruptive run like this laid the groundwork for that to be something that more people could embrace. And a movement that they might want to be a part of,” she told Politico.

Pressley previously worked for Rep. Joe Kennedy and for Sen. John Kerry before becoming the first black woman elected to the Boston City Council. She, like Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, is part of a wave of progressive candidates of color who are winning unexpected victories against the Democratic establishment.

“I think arguably I have been a faithful soldier for this party, nationally, I’m already a strong voice, which is why I have been engaged as a surrogate for our party locally and nationally, a tremendous honor,” Pressley told Politico. “I love this party, I love our party. I think that we have an opportunity to get closer to who we say we are.”

This story is developing and will be updated when more information becomes available.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Pressley supports a federal jobs guarantee. That is not one of her campaign planks. However, the Justice Democrats, who supported her run, endorse the policy. We regret the error.

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