Ayanna Pressley ousts longtime Democrat in Massachusetts House primary

Andrew Cummings
September 5, 2018

The 44-year-old's upset victory against longtime Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano in Tuesday's primary sets the stage for Pressley to represent an area once served by Tip O'Neill and John F. Kennedy.

She'd be Massachusetts' first black woman in Congress.

"It seems like change is on the way", Pressley said in her celebratory speech.

It's not a sight you see every day, certainly not around Boston - a black woman mounting a plausible challenge to a 10-term white congressman from her own party, a politician with vast connections who votes the progressive line and opposes everything Trump.

Massachusetts' last Democratic primary upset came in 2014, when Seth Moulton defeated Rep. John Tierney in the state's 6th Congressional District.


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Pressley had campaigned heavily on issues like defunding US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) and passing a clean Dream Act to support young undocumented immigrants.

Warren thanked Capuano for his decades of public service Tuesday night and said she was looking forward to working with Pressley in Washington, D.C.

"I knew we would be essentially, alone", Pressley said during her victory speech.

Ayanna Pressley applauds in front of her supporters during primary day on September 4, 2018 in Chelsea, Massachusetts.


As in Ocasio-Cortez's race, Pressley was a progressive woman of color challenging a white male lawmaker.

She was raised by her single mother, Sandra Pressley, on the north side of Chicago while her father, Martin Pressley, battled addiction and spent much of her childhood in prison. Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, who was running against a more moderate Democrat in Crowley, Capuano is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus with a solidly left-leaning legislative record.

However, there are significant differences between the two races.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker won his party's nomination for a second term, defeating Scott Lively, a conservative minister and staunch supporter of Trump who frequently called Baker - a frequent critic of the president - a RINO, or Republican in Name Only.


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