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This Boston City Councilor Could Be the Next Ocasio-Cortez-Style Upset

Boston Globe latest to back Ayana Pressley over incumbent Michael Capuano

Ayanna Pressley attends EMILY’s List 30th anniversary gala at the Washington Hilton on March 3, 2015. (Kris Connor/Getty Images for EMILY’s List file photo)
Ayanna Pressley attends EMILY’s List 30th anniversary gala at the Washington Hilton on March 3, 2015. (Kris Connor/Getty Images for EMILY’s List file photo)

Ayanna Pressley, billed as the next newcomer to potentially shake up the Democratic Party, will have some old-school backing when she heads into next month’s primary in Massachusetts’ 7th District.

The Boston Globe on Sunday endorsed the Boston city councilor over 10-term incumbent Rep. Michael E. Capuano. The rival Boston Herald, which generally hews more to the right, gave her its stamp last week.  Pressley also has the backing of the state’s attorney general, Maura Healey.

Pressley has “rare political talents, combining personal charisma with a shrewd understanding of how to translate values into policy,”  the Globe’s endorsement read. It referenced her work to overhaul the way the city hands out its liquor licenses, which had historically shut out female and minority business owners. The resulting changes demonstrated her pragmatic approach to policymaking that could yield sweeping results, it said. 

The endorsements inject uncertainty into the Sept. 4 contest, which has attracted national attention as the latest referendum on the future of the Democratic Party.

Both candidates are liberal and have not diverged significantly on the issues. Polls have shown Capuano leading, and he is also ahead both in the amount of money raised — $1.7 million compared to Pressley’s nearly $900,000 — and in cash on hand, $750,000 t0 $131,000 — through Aug. 15, the end of the pre-primary reporting period.

But Pressley has generated a  sense of excitement in an election year that has been about change for both parties. As Boston’s first African-American city councilor — and potentially the first African-American in the state’s House delegation — Pressley has promised what Commonwealth Magazine described as “fresh leadership” that “better reflects the state’s diversity.”

The Herald described the race: “One candidate is looking to save his seat while the other intends to reinvent it.”

Capuano, meanwhile, has the backing of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Massachusetts’s first African-American governor, Deval Patrick. He also has an A rating from the NAACP and has hosted campaign events with  civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.

Massachusetts’ 7th District leans strongly left, with Hillary Clinton carrying it by 72 points in 2016. It encompasses Boston’s residential neighborhoods and its surrounding suburbs, with large Hispanic, black and Asian populations, and is the state’s only majority-minority district.

No Republican candidates filed for the race that Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Solid Democratic.

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