After upset win, Massachusetts Democrat comes out swinging at Trump

BOSTON (Reuters) – Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley on Tuesday scored a massive victory over a 10-term incumbent to win the Democratic nomination to represent the liberal city in the U.S. Congress and immediately came out swinging at President Donald Trump.

Incumbent U.S. Representative Mike Capuano (D-MA) speaks to reporters after voting in the Massachusetts Primary Election in Somerville, Massachusetts, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Pressley’s win was the latest in a streak of victories by younger, more racially diverse Democratic candidates against established rivals ahead of the Nov. 6 election when Democrats need to pick up 23 seats in the House of Representatives to serve as a more effective foil to Trump’s agenda.

The Chicago-raised activist faces no Republican rival for the district that includes most of liberal Boston and its neighboring cities, leaving her free to focus on the Republican president.

“Our president is a racist, misogynistic, truly empathy-bankrupt man,” Pressley, 44, told supporters on Tuesday night. “It is time to show Washington, D.C., both my fellow Democrats who I hope will stand with us and Republicans who may stand in our way … change is coming and the future belongs to all of us.”

Democratic U.S Congressional candidate and Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley greets voters outside a polling station in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Trump has angered Democrats with his comments describing some immigrants as criminals, verbal attacks on black professional athletes protesting against racism and Twitter slaps at female politicians.

Pressley’s win echoes the June primary in a safely Democratic New York City congressional district where first-time candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat a 10-term incumbent, sparking enthusiasm for progressive candidates across the United States. Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Pressley shortly after her win.

In challenging U.S. Representative Michael Capuano, who had not faced a primary challenge since he was first elected in 1998, Pressley argued that she was more attuned to the needs of residents of the state’s only congressional district where a majority of residents are not white.

Pressley is poised to become the state’s first black woman in Congress.

“This wasn’t a battle between a conservative and a liberal, they were both progressives in very good standing,” said Peter Ubertaccio, a professor of political science at Stonehill College outside Boston. “It does point to a generational shift and this notion that a lot of folks are not waiting their turn in the way they might have years ago.”

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Polls and political analysts predict the state’s nine House of Representatives seats will remain in Democratic hands, along with the seat held by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading liberal voice often cited as a possible 2020 White House contender.

Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican who regularly shows up in opinion polls as one of the most popular U.S. governors, is also expected to be re-elected.

Other Massachusetts Democratic incumbents held off challengers.

Secretary of State William Galvin, 67, who has held his office for 24 years, easily beat another Boston City Council member, 34-year-old Josh Zakim.

U.S. Representative Richard Neal, the 69-year-old ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee now in his 15th two-year term, held off a challenge by 44-year-old lawyer Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, who is Muslim and has been endorsed by Our Revolution, a progressive group that grew out of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Democratic presidential campaign.

No victor had emerged by 11 p.m. among the 10 Democrats vying for the nomination to replace U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas, who is retiring after 11 years representing the state’s northeast, including Lowell.

Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and and Peter Cooney

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