‘Change is coming’

Massachusetts poised for 1st African-American congresswoman following defeat of 20-year incumbent

Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Council member and Democratic candidate for congress, delivers her victory speech at the IBEW Local 103 in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on September 4, 2018. (JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images)

Ayanna Pressley is set to become the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress after a shocking runaway electoral win over 10-term U.S. Representative Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. Pressley, a progressive who also became the first black woman to be elected to the Boston City Council in 2009, won the primary in decisive fashion as Capuano, a 20-year incumbent, conceded defeat with barely 13 percent of the votes tallied. No Republican is on the ballot to oppose her in the upcoming November election for her dominantly liberal Boston-based district.

Pressley, a survivor of sexual assault whose family life as a child was complicated by her father’s imprisonment due to a drug addiction, had campaigned on a promise to help empower women and minorities in her minority-majority district — the only such district in the entire state.

“The people closest to the pain should be closest to the power,” said Pressley during her stump speech.

Pressley is part of a growing wave of non-white women progressives to score stunning upset primary victories over longtime establishment Democrats — among them 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who upended Joseph Crowley, the fourth ranked Democrat in the House in New York, and Stacey Abrams, who won her primary in the Georgia gubernatorial race with 76.5 percent of the vote and will now challenge for the chance to become the nation’s first ever black female governor.

Pressley’s win was also representative of a larger demographic change in a city that has historically been controlled by a white, union-driven political establishment. “With our rights under assault, with our freedoms under siege, it’s not just good enough to see the Democrats back in power, but it matters who those Democrats are,” Pressley declared during her victory speech. “Change isn’t waiting any longer. We have arrived, change is coming and the future belongs to all of us.”

Watch video of her victory speech below.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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