Ayanna Pressley / REUTERS

Archived: Progressive Black Woman Defeats Middle of the Road Incumbent White Male Democrat

In a wave of unprecedented primary wins by diverse, younger and progressive candidates, before the Nov. 6 election, a Black woman is set to make history as the first to be elected to U.S. Congress in Massachusetts.

On Tuesday, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, age 44, defeated Democratic Rep. Mike Capuano, a 68-year-old white man and 10-term incumbent, to win the Democratic nomination.

Pressley is among the hundreds of Black women from across the country that decided to run for political office this year. For example, following Doug Jones (whom 96 percent of Black women voted for) defeating Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election in December, a record number of Black women decided to run for office across the state.

Blackwomeninpolitics.com lists at least 617 Black women candidates running for office in the U.S.

Similar to Pressley, in Connecticut, Jahana Hayes may become the state’s first Black woman to earn a congressional seat if she wins in November.

Pressley is the first Black woman to win a seat on Boston’s city council. She faces no Republican opponent for the district, which includes most of Boston and its neighboring cities. Only a write-in campaign in November could possibly pose a challenge to her winning the seat.

She had strong words for President Trump on Tuesday night.

“Our president is a racist, misogynistic, truly empathy-bankrupt man,” Pressley told supporters.

“It is time to show Washington, D.C., both my fellow Democrats, who I hope will stand with us and Republicans who may stand in our way … change is coming and the future belongs to all of us.”

Pressley’s campaign was a grassroots operation. She did not have the backing of key Democrats, like Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who endorsed her white, male and more centric opponent.

New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose win in June against Joe Crowley, the House Democratic Caucus Chair, was also a major upset, endorsed Pressley.

She backs Medicare-for-all, the single-payer health care proposal, and has called for defunding the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Pressley’s supporters are mainly minorities, immigrants and college students. She also had the backing of Our Revolution, the offshoot of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.

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

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