Another progressive, liberal old white man has fallen to a younger, more progressive minority woman in an urban congressional district. The Washington Post has reported that 66 year old Michael Capuano in Massachusetts lost in the Democratic primary in his bid for an 11th term. The Post said that Capuano conceded to Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley after polls closed in the state.
Pressley, 44, campaigned on a message of “generational change.”
“You saw what I saw: That these times demanded more from our leaders and our party,” Pressley told her supporters in Boston. “It’s not just good enough to see the Democrats back in power. It matters who those Democrats are.”
Capuano acknowledged he had lost his old political base to his opponent who is more in touch with a congressional district that has grown much more diverse over the past 20 years.
“Clearly, the district wanted a lot of change,” Capuano said. “Ayanna Pressley is going to be a good congresswoman.”
Capuano has been in Congress since 1998 but was not able to keep up with Pressley in appealing to the needs of people in the district. She made the case that a young and majority-nonwhite district needed a fresh voice in Washington.
“I fundamentally believe that the people closest to the pain should be closest to the power,” Pressley said while campaigning.
In a similar situation in New York City, long time Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley lost in a primary to a young and vibrant Latina, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Although Capuano and Crowley both are considered very progressive within the House Democratic Caucus, that isn’t enough for the new wave of younger, more progressive Democratic voters who want real change, and who don’t want to wait for it.
Pressley said she “did what Massachusetts Democrats aren’t supposed to do” — unseat an incumbent who was supported by the political establishment. Her slogan was “change can’t wait.”
The Capuano-Pressley primary battle attracted a lot of national attention in the same way that the New York battle between Crowley and Ocasio-Cortez did . Like Crowley, Capuano has been one of the House’s most reliably left-wing votes. But Pressley made the argument that she would be able lead “a movement” from the seat while Capuano was content to simply vote the right way.
“Representation does matter,” Pressley said in an interview. “Many would just say: Your job is the vote. I’m saying that your vote is just one part of the job.”
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.