The world was turned on its nose Tuesday night in the Congressional District 7 race when Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley surprised everyone with a solid victory, ousting Congressional Michael Capuano from the seat he has held for 20 years on the tails of a huge Boston turnout.
Capuano conceded the race around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday after a long day of campaigning that included prominent stops with Mayor Martin Walsh at his side.
Pressley didn’t appear in the neighborhoods Tuesday, and had made only a few visits here during the campaign, but Pressley did visit Chelsea on Tuesday, where she enjoyed great support. She has been a frequent visitor to South End events over the years, particularly the South End Forum.
Districtwide, Pressley took the race by 18 percent, winning 59 percent to 41 percent. Pressley enjoyed great support south of Boston and in Dorchester and Mattapan – where voter turnout was heavy.
Citywide in Boston, Pressley beat Capuano 64 percent (40,452 votes) to 36 percent (22,831 votes). Pressley swept many of the precincts in the southern part of Boston in 70-30 splits, and found victory in the South End precincts with about 60 percent of the vote in most areas.
In her victory speech Tuesday night, the Boston councilor repeated the phrase that “Change can’t wait.”
“You, your families and friends expected more and these times needed more from our leaders and our party,” she said from her watch party at Dorchester’s IBEW hall. “These times demanded a party that was bold, uncompromising and unafraid…It isn’t enough to see the Democrats back in power, but…it mattered who those Democrats are. And, while our president is a racist, misogynistic, truly empathetically bankrupt man, the area that makes the 7th Congressional District one of the most unequal was cemented through policies drawn up long before he ever descended the escalator at Trump Tower. In fact, some of those policies were put in place with Democrats in the White House and in control of our Congress. They are policies so ingrained in our daily lives that we’ve almost convinced ourselves that there wasn’t anything we could do about them. As we know, change can’t wait.”
In his concession speech, Capuano noted that many established legislators within the 7th district were also ousted, including state representatives in the South End and Jamaica Plain.
“Clearly the district wanted a lot of change,” he said. “Apparently the district is upset with a lot that’s going on. I don’t blame them. I’m just as upset. So be it. This is the way life goes…The last eight months most of you have worked very hard for us. I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but that’s life and this is ok. America is going to be ok. Ayanna Pressley is going to be a great congresswoman and Massachusetts will be well represented.”
Mayor Martin Walsh hit the campaign trail hard for Capuano most of the election season, endorsing him formally many months ago in Dorchester. On Tuesday, he appeared off-schedule to campaign for Capuano. He said he didn’t want to see the veteran Congressman’s experience be lost.
“Experience matters,” he said in front of the Edwards School. “Michael Capuano has been doing this job a long time and is a former mayor. Having someone in the U.S. Congress that served in the same job that I serve in now is helpful. He understand budgets and City finances.”
With the win, Pressley scored one of the biggest upsets in Massachusetts politics in a long time, and she also becomes the first African American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.