Ten-term Democrat Rep. Michael Capuano just lost his bid for another term in Congress. His challenger, Ayanna Pressley, is a progressive candidate who many are comparing to nationally known left-wing congressional candidate Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. In fact, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and a host of other progressive activists formally endorsed Mrs. Pressley, who will now run unopposed in Massachusetts’ Seventh Congressional District race.
Because the GOP is not fielding a candidate in the race, Mrs. Pressley is almost certain to become the first African-American woman to represent a district in Massachusetts in the House of Representatives. Naturally, Democrat activists who are putting a premium on diversity and skin color rather than positions and qualifications are hailing her election as a move in the right direction, touting the fact that she joins a number of successful African-American candidates who are running in gubernatorial and congressional elections in the country.
Ayanna Pressley, who has been serving as a Boston City Councilor since 2009, is not considered to be as far-left as Bernie Sanders and the Democrat Socialists of America. Even so, she is clearly running on a progressive platform. Her official website promotes a single-payer healthcare system, federal funding for abortions and comprehensive gun reform. She also made it clear throughout her campaign that she wants to defund ICE and pass a clean DREAM Act without conditions that President Trump seeks to attach to such a bill. Ironically, Rep. Capuano also held many of the same positions, and is considered to be a progressive Democrat as well. Even so, he was not able to generate as much excitement and support as Mrs. Pressley.
First of all, many Democrats are looking for outsider candidates who will hopefully be able to connect with voters who may support Democrat causes, but are unenthusiastic about sending the same people back to Washington year in and year out. Mrs. Pressley’s story of being raised by a single mother and surviving sexual assault as a child and university student has resonated with many poorer residents in the Seventh District. Furthermore, her grassroots campaign was able to benefit from progressive activism that has managed to upend various Democratic primaries, opening the way for new candidates to have a shot at taking political office.
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s recent victory over a senior Democratic member of the House of Representatives encouraged activists working for Mrs. Pressley and not only turned national attention to Democrat primary races involving progressive candidates, but also motivated voters with the knowledge that it was possible for Mrs. Pressley to win even though she had raised less money than her opponent. It is also worth noting that Massachusetts’ Seventh District is considered to be one of the most progressive in the nation; hence, it is not surprising that the most progressive candidate on the ballot would win it.
Many are hailing Ayanna Pressley’s surprise win in the Democratic primary race as an indication that the Democratic Party as a whole is moving further left. There is some truth to this statement, as a number of progressive candidates have won recent races and now stand a chance of winning elected office. What is more, long-term Democrat politicians in Washington are moving further left, embracing platforms they would not have touted in times past. At the same time, the party remains divided, as is evidenced by the fact that numerous progressive Democrats lost their primary races against mainstream Democrat opponents.
Far-left candidates have often failed to gain official endorsement from nationally recognized DNC politicians. In fact, former president Barack Obama recently made it a point to refuse to endorse any new Democratic candidate who dared to run against an incumbent party insider. The party remains divided between those who feel that fielding moderate candidates is the key to winning back both houses of Congress and those who are convinced that the only way to beat the GOP in the upcoming mid-term elections is to field exciting, progressive candidates.
~ Conservative Zone