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 Congressman Michael Capuano from the seat he has held for 20 years.
Capuano conceded the race around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday after a long day of campaigning that included prominent stops in Charlestown with Mayor Martin Walsh at his side rallying voters with State Rep. Dan Ryan and State Sen. Sal DiDomenico late in the day.
Pressley didn’t appear in Charlestown Tuesday, and had made only a few visits here during the campaign, but Pressley did visit Chelsea on Tuesday, where she enjoyed great support.
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).
In places like Charlestown, Somerville and East Boston, voting was light, and even though Capuano easily won the Town, it wasn’t enough votes to counter the surge on the other side of downtown. While Charlestown recorded almost 3,000 votes in the contest, it didn’t even compare to the turnout for last fall’s heated Council and mayoral race – which brought out around 4,700 votes for Council.
In Charlestown, Capuano won all seven precincts and Pressley’s closest brush to winning was in 2-4 at the Harvard-Kent where she lost by 17 votes.
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 of Boston 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.”
For Charlestown leaders like Rep. Ryan and Sen. DiDomenico – who both worked for Capuano and counted him as a mentor – the news was hard to digest and seemed to come out of nowhere due to the Congressman’s overwhelming support in the Town for two decades.
“It’s too early to digest the results from across the entire 7th District,” said Ryan on Tuesday night. “But early indications tell me that the voters of Charlestown and Chelsea chose to reward Congressman Capuano’s years of dedicated service with votes. He opened doors of opportunity that have allowed me to serve and he continues to teach by example. I congratulate Congresswomen-elect Pressley. I’ll look forward to working with her as we continue to move our district in a positive direction.”
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 at the Edwards Middle School 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.
Candidate Rachael Rollins take open seat in district attorney race
Rachael Rollins upended the candidacy of four other opponents Tuesday night to take a very crowded district attorney race – coming to victory in an overwhelming win in Boston citywide.
The district attorney represents all of Boston, and Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop.
Rollins captured the victory by winning the large Boston citywide vote with 40 percent, or 33,656 votes.
In Boston, the next closest candidate was favorite Greg Henning, who scored only 22 percent of the Boston vote, or 18,478 votes.
Others candidates were EvandroCarvalho (18 percent), Shannon McAuliffe (10 percent), and Linda Champion (9 percent).
Rollins will be the first female-candidate of color to hold the position in the history of the Commonwealth.
“I am honored and humbled,” she said. “But I also need to say – for all of us – that this is earned. As a 47-year-old black woman, I have earned this. We have earned this. This is the time for us to claim our power and make good on our promises to make true criminal justice reform for the people in Suffolk County. Reform that is progressive – that decriminalizes poverty, substance use disorder, and mental illness. This is the time to create a system that puts fairness and equity first as a model for the Commonwealth and the nation.”