Another 10-term white-male incumbent went down to defeat in a Democratic primary Tuesday night.
“Clearly, the district wanted a lot of change,” he told supporters. “Ayanna Pressley is going to be a good congresswoman.”
Ms. Pressley, the first black woman elected to the Boston City Council, challenged Mr. Capuano from the left and on style and identity, in a pattern similar to the upset victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier this summer in New York.
With 73 percent of the vote counted, Ms. Pressley had 56.7 percent of the vote, to Mr. Capuano’s 43.1 percent, despite the incumbent having held a similarly sized double-digit leads in the early polling.
“I am so humbled to be standing before you, victorious tonight,” she said in a soft voice to supporters Tuesday night. “Ours was a people-power grassroots campaign… [that] dared to do what Massachusetts Democrats are not supposed to do.”
She praised Mr. Capuano, saying she wanted to “thank him for his 20 years of service” and that he “forced me to bring my best.”
“We will vote the same way, but I will lead differently,” she said in a recent debate.
But she also argued her case in part based on identity, saying last week that “representation does matter.”
“Many would just say: Your job is the vote. I’m saying that your vote is just one part of the job,” she said.
She made a slogan of the line “those who are close to the pain should be close to the power.”
In the general election, Ms. Pressley will be heavily favored in the 7th Congressional District, which covers parts of Boston and its heavily Democratic suburbs and that backed Hillary Clinton with 84 percent of its vote in the 2016 presidential race.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, cheered the outcome on Twitter on Tuesday night.
“Congrats to my friend @AyannaPressley & her team on a hard-fought primary win tonight! Ayanna& I have worked together for years, & she’s a fierce advocate & powerful force for change. I’m looking forward to fighting alongside her in Congress,” Ms. Warren wrote.
Mr. Capuano had been endorsed by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, most of the local unions, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and even Rep. Maxine Waters of California and much of the rest of the black political establishment in Washington, D.C.
Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat, took a trip to Boston’s Twelfth Baptist Church to campaign for Mr. Capuano, arguing that his colleague’s experience and tenure mattered.
“People who have been around for awhile, they know their way around,” the civil-rights legend said, according to a New York Times report in May. “They know where all the bodies are buried and they know how to get things done.”
She also had the endorsement of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Democracy for America and several grassroots progressive groups, some of whom explicitly argued for her on racial grounds.
“Congressman Mike Capuano has been a fine, progressive member of Congress, but having an experienced progressive like Ayanna Pressley on the ballot is an unmissable opportunity for Massachusetts to both ensure a leading woman of color represents its only majority-minority district and add the voice of just one person of color to New England’s currently all-white congressional delegation,” Jim Dean, chairman for Democracy for America, said in a statement to The Intercept.
However, two other Massachusetts Democrats, Reps. Stephen F. Lynch and Richard E. Neal, easily defeated progressive female challengers Tuesday night.
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