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Ayanna Pressley

Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilwomen and House Democratic candidate, gives a victory speech at her primary night gathering after her opponent Mike Capuano conceded on September 4, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

'Change Is on the Way': Ayanna Pressley Delivers Landslide Progressive Upset in Massachusetts

"It's not just good enough to see the Democrats back in power. It matters who those Democrats are."

Jake Johnson

Notching yet another major upset win for the progressive movement over a corporate-funded establishment opponent, Boston city councilor Ayanna Pressley ousted 10-term incumbent Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) Tuesday night in a landslide victory that provided further evidence of grassroots hunger for transformational change within the Democratic Party.

"The only way we can beat the hate coming out from Washington is not with a vote—it's with a movement!"
—Ayanna Pressley

While Capuano is well-respected Democrat who built a solidly progressive voting record over his 20 years in Congress, Pressley argued that—in the age of Trump—Massachusetts' seventh congressional district and the nation need "bold, activist leadership."

"You saw what I saw: That these times demanded more from our leaders and our party," Pressley declared in her victory speech in Boston Tuesday night. "It's not just good enough to see the Democrats back in power. It matters who those Democrats are."

"It seems like change is on the way," Pressley added. "For the residents of the seventh congressional district, change can't wait."

Pressley—who is expected to win in November and become the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress—contrasted her message of bold, movement-based politics with Capuano's decision to continue taking corporate PAC money and his refusal to embrace the growing grassroots call to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

"Let's push together to make Medicare for All, tuition free college, and living wages a reality in America—all without corporate PAC money."
—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

"A progressive voting record in the most progressive seat in the country is not enough," Pressley said during a recent campaign event. "The only way we can beat the hate coming out from Washington is not with a vote—it's with a movement!"

If recent upset victories for left-wing candidates in New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and now Massachusetts are any evidence, this movement to oust the old guard of the Democratic Party and usher in young, ambitious progressives willing to challenge the traditional boundaries of American politics is rapidly gaining steam.

"This is not just a blue wave; this is a movement that's coming to Congress," New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said during a June appearance with Pressley, before either woman had  defeated their supposedly safe Democratic opponents.

In a tweet Tuesday night, Ocasio-Cortez congratulated Pressley on her landslide victory and declared, "Let's push together to make Medicare for All, tuition free college, and living wages a reality in America—all without corporate PAC money."

Speaking to the New York Times Tuesday night, Boston-based Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh argued that Pressley's victory is "a big wake-up call to any incumbent on the ballot in November."

In contrast to Capuano, who enjoyed the backing of prominent congressional Democrats as well as Boston's mayor, Pressley received "little-to-no Democratic Party establishment support," noted the Post's Amber Phillips.

But, as Pressley declared in her victory speech Tuesday night, this lack of establishment support was overcome by a movement of "people who feel seen and heard for the first time in their lives."

"That is the real victory, that is bigger than any electoral victory," Pressley concluded. "And I want to thank you all for being foot soldiers in this movement and for ushering in this change."


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