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 did visit Chelsea on Tuesday, where she enjoyed great support at a rally in front of the Williams School.
Both candidates had campaigned heavily in Chelsea over the last six months, with many seeing the city as a battle ground for what ended up being only a very small number of votes – with the election seeing only a 15 percent turnout and 2,106 votes cast in the race.
Pressley and Capuano also had major elected official support in Chelsea, with Councilors such as Leo Robinson, Roy Avellaneda and State Rep. Dan Ryan with Capuano. Meanwhile, Council President Damali Vidot, Councilor Enio Lopez and School Committeeman Julio Hernandez.
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 and she took many precincts in a 70-30 percent split.
In Chelsea, Capuano won with 1,138 votes (54 percent) to Pressley’s
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 won Chelsea and Everett, it wasn’t enough votes to counter the surge on the other side of downtown Boston.
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 Chelsea 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 great support in the Chelsea 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.”
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 takes 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 with an overwhelming vote 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 Chelsea Rollins carried the vote with 600 votes, or 32 percent. Evandro Carvalho brought in 434 votes (23 percent), followed by Greg Henning with 303 votes (16 percent). Shannon McAuliffe, who worked in Chelsea for many years, did not turn that fact into votes, slipping down to fourth place with 273 votes (15 percent). Linda Champion got 239 votes (13 percent).
Rollins had found a great niche of support in Chelsea as well, with many City Councillors Leo Robinson and the Ward 4 Democratic Committee, among others.
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.”