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6 things to know about rising-star Democrat Ayanna Pressley

6 things to know about rising-star Democrat Ayanna Pressley

Ayanna Pressley is poised to make history. The Boston city councilwoman just beat 10-term incumbent progressive Congressman Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary in Massachusetts, securing the Democratic nomination for Congress for Massachusetts’s 7th district. Since she will not face a Republican opponent in November’s midterm election, Pressley will most likely become the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Pressley’s surprise win is the latest in a series of victories for progressive candidates, many of whom are young or minority or both, and another sign that Democratic women are making major strides in political representation in 2018. “It seems like change is on the way,” Pressley told the crowd, per CNN. It sure does. Pressley’s upset victory mirrors that of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who unseated longtime incumbent Joseph Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional primary.

Here are some things to know about Pressley:

  • Pressley has been open about her background—her father was incarcerated for most of her youth and she is a survivor of sexual assault. She turned her struggles into a rallying cry, saying, “The people closest to the pain should be closest to the power.”
  • She is no political newcomer. She has already worked for 16 years in national politics, as a senior aide to former Sen. John Kerry and an intern for former Sen. Ted Kennedy’s office.
  • In 2009 she became the first black woman elected to the Boston City Council. There, as the New York Times reports, she reformed the city’s liquor licensing process, updated Boston Public Schools’ policy for pregnant and parenting teens, and created a City Council committee focused on women and girls.
  • She won a rising star award from Emily’s List in 2015.
  • Only two of Massachusetts’s nine House members are women, and one is retiring. Pressley will also be the first person of color to ever represent the state in Congress.
  • She will head to Congress to represent the 7th District of Massachusetts, the Boston-area district once represented by John F. Kennedy.
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