Thursday, September 13, 2018

By Lauren Victoria Burke

 

One week following a stunning political victory coming out of Florida with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s unforeseen win in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, a political surprise arrived out of Boston.

At-large Boston City Council member, Ayanna Pressley, 44, has stunned political prognosticators and defeated longtime Congressman Mike Capuano in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts’ 7th congressional district. Congressman Capuano, who is well regarded by colleagues, has been in Congress for twenty years.

In less than sixty days, Pressley is to become the first Black U.S. Representative ever elected to Congress from Massachusetts. The seat she will be representing, Massachusetts’ 7th district, was once held by John F. Kennedy.

Pressley’s victory is one in a growing line of stunning upsets by progressive candidates this primary season. Many political observers are citing polls indicating Democrats will flip many House seats in their favor on November 6th.

Pressley’s victory follows stunning wins by progressives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (over long time Congressman Joe Cowley in New York), Jahana Hayes in Connecticut (replacing retiring Congresswoman Elizabeth Etsy) and Ilhan Omar’s primary victory in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, to fill the seat left open by Rep. Keith Ellison leaving Congress who is running for Minnesota Attorney General.

Today’s progressive wave first appeared in Virginia in 2017 but is now widely regarded as a backlash against the presidency of Donald Trump. Polls show that the congressional generic ballot is +15 points in favor of the Democrats. Those types of poll results are sending a great deal of concern through Republican ranks — and the continuing surprise victories of Democrats of diverse backgrounds are causing even further concern.

Pressley was not endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus PAC. Her opponent, Rep. Capuano, received notable support from civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) during his campaign. Rep. Capuano is known as a popular progressive who championed many of the causes CBC members support.

At a time when pushback against the Trump administration’s divisive policies towards minorities and immigrants have been featured, Pressley’s vigorous campaign captured the imagination of the nation’s current political climate.