Progressive Upstart Defeats Incumbent in Mass. House Race

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley celebrates victory over U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., in the 7th Congressional House Democratic primary, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

BOSTON (CN) – Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley will become Massachusetts’ first female black member of Congress after upsetting 10-term Democratic incumbent Michael Capuano in Tuesday night’s primary election.

After spending the entire campaign trailing in polls by double digits, Pressley stunned Capuano with 58 percent of the vote in Massachusetts’ 7th District, which includes most of Boston and parts of neighboring municipalities.

Pressley, who is expected to cruise through November without a Republican opponent, drew many comparisons to New York political upstart Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during her primary campaign against a veteran Democrat.

“I am so humble to be standing for you tonight, victorious,” Pressley said during her televised victory speech Tuesday night. “Ours was truly a people-power grassroots campaign.”

Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley is no political newcomer. She was first elected to the Boston City Council in 2009 after working for U.S. Senator John Kerry. As the council’s first woman of color, Pressley quickly established herself as an advocate for the city’s underrepresented population, becoming chair of the council’s Committee on Health Women, Families and Committees.

Her time on the council was marked by impassioned speeches about the exploitation of sex workers, sexual assault on campus and protections for the LGBTQ population.

Capuano praised Pressley’s campaign in his televised concession speech.

“Clearly the district wanted a lot of change,” Capuano said. “Ayanna Pressley is going to be a good congresswoman and I will say that Massachusetts will be well served.”

In the 8th Congressional District, U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch easily dispatched his two primary challengers with 71 percent of the vote. Lynch also has GOP opposition this fall.

Republican Governor Charlie Baker held onto his seat meanwhile, defeating his primary challenger Scott Lively with 64 percent of the vote. Baker will face off in November against Jay Gonzalez, a Democrat who had served in the administration of former Democratic Governor Deval Patrick.

Geoff Diehl grabbed 55 percent in a three-way race for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. He will go on to be Senator Elizabeth Warren’s first challenger since she unseated Scott Brown in 2012.

Congressional incumbents Joe Kennedy III, Bill Keating and Richard Neal all easily defeated their respective primary challengers with at least 70 percent of the vote in each race.

Voters are still waiting to find out who will replace retiring U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas from Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District.

As of Wednesday morning, with 224 of 225 precincts reporting, Lori Trahan held a slim 140-point lead on Dan Koh in the 10-way race for the Democratic nomination.

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