In Mass. House race, Pressley wins fight for ‘soul’ of party

Associated Press By STEVE LeBLANC

BOSTON (AP) — Ayanna Pressley is all but assured of becoming the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, the latest example of the Democratic Party’s embrace of diversity and progressive politics as the recipe for success in the Trump era.

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. Her win comes at the tail end of a primary season in which black politicians have made a series of advances.

In nearby Connecticut, Jahana Hayes is on track to become that state’s first black woman to win a congressional seat if she prevails in November. And black politicians in three states — Florida, Georgia, and Maryland — have won the Democratic nomination for governor, a historic turn for a country that has elected just two black governors in U.S. history.

Greeting voters at a Boston polling station, Pressley spoke of “the ground shifting beneath our feet and the wind at our backs.”

“This is a fight for the soul of our party and the future of our democracy,” she told reporters. “This is a disruptive candidacy, a grassroots coalition. It is broad and diverse and deep. People of every walk of life.”

For Pressley, as with many other ascendant candidates of color, unabashedly progressive credentials smoothed her path to victory in the primary. No Republicans were running, so only a write-in campaign in November could possibly stand between her and Washington.

She was endorsed by fellow congressional upstart Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who knocked off veteran Rep. Joe Crowley of New York in June. Pressley backs Medicare-for-all, the single-payer health care proposal, which helped her garner backing from Our Revolution, the offshoot of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.

Pressley called for defunding the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, which helped her draw support from Massachusetts’ popular attorney general, Maura Healey, who’s gained a national following for repeatedly suing President Donald Trump in an attempt to block his policies on immigration, gun control, and other issues.

“We have to be disruptive in our democracy and our policymaking and how we run and win elections,” she said in an interview this summer with The Associated Press, adding that Ocasio-Cortez’s victory challenged “narratives about who has a right to run and when, and who can win” in American politics.




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