Boston Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley Defeats 10-term Incumbent in Historic Democratic Primary for Massachusetts Senate Seat

Boston City Councilwomen And House Democratic Candidate Ayanna Pressley applauds in front of her supporters during primary day on September 4, 2018 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Pressley is campaigning for Boston's Seventh Congressional District against fellow Democrat Michael Capuano. (Scott Eisen, WGBH)
Boston City Councilwomen And House Democratic Candidate Ayanna Pressley applauds in front of her supporters during primary day on September 4, 2018 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Pressley is campaigning for Boston’s Seventh Congressional District against fellow Democrat Michael Capuano. (Scott Eisen, WGBH)

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, in a historic upset that is sure to send ripples across the Democratic Party, defeated incumbent Rep. Michael Capuano in Tuesday’s contest for control of Massachusetts’ 7th congressional district, positioning herself to become the first African American woman to join the state’s Washington delegation.

Just after 9 p.m., Caupano publicly conceded the race to Pressley saying “I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but this is life. This is okay” Capuano congratulated Pressley on her win telling supporters she’ll be a good representative.

Official vote counts have not been tallied.

Pressley, a Boston city councilor-at-large with Chicago roots, launched her campaign earlier this year against Capuano around the phrase “Change Can’t Wait” — though there were few policy differences between her and her opponent. On the campaign trail, Pressley touted the need for “bold” and “activist” leadership in Congress and argued she would be a better representative because she understands the needs facing the state’s only majority-minority district.

Capuano, 66, the former mayor of Somerville who was first elected to the House in 1999, faced his first serious challenger in Pressley, 44, who was among a crop of younger insurgent candidates taking on veteran incumbents this primary season. Throughout the campaign, Capuano often touted his ability to bring federal funds back to the district and was poised to play a key leadership role if Democrats won the house in November.

Supporters at Capuano headquarters listened — silent and stunned — as the 10-term congressman took the stage, flanked by six American flags and conceded in the upset of the night.

“Clearly the district wanted a lot of change,” he said, pointing to the loss of long-time state Rep. Byron Rushing and others.

He left the stage and turned away from press interviews, electing instead to shake the hands of the shocked throng before exiting the ballroom.

The seventh congressional district stretches through parts of Boston, Cambridge and Milton and includes Somerville, Chelsea and Randolph.

Since no Republican is on the ballot for this race in November, Pressley will almost certainly represent the 7th District in 2019.

SOURCE: Antonio Caban
WGBH