DORCHESTER (CBS) – Ayanna Pressley admits it: She was surprised Tuesday night when she won.
The 44-year-old Boston City Councilor made history, defeating 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary for the 7th Congressional District to become the first-ever black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts; she’s running unopposed in the November general election.
“The truth is that I had minutes before prepared myself to take the stage not with a victory,” Pressley told WBZ’s Liam Martin on Friday in a one-on-one interview.
She beat Capuano by about 18 points, stunning the Democratic Party establishment in Massachusetts and across the country. Capuano had represented the 7th district for 20 years and was well liked. Polls leading up to Tuesday’s election had him up by double digits.
Pressley, who was raised in Chicago and moved to Boston to attend BU, attributes her win to a mix of hard work (she proudly notes that the campaign knocked on more than 40,000 doors) and the voters’ desire for a D.C. outsider with a fresh approach. She also noted that the so-called “Year of the Woman” in U.S. politics has excited female voters in this cycle. There are more than 260 women who’ve advanced to the general election for seats in the U.S. House, Senate and governors’ mansions.
“When we stood on the Boston Common in the wake of the sobering defeat of 2016,” Pressley told Martin, “we said then that that was not a moment, but we were ushering in a movement.”
She said women to whom she speaks are specifically concerned about the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, arguing the future of abortion and contraceptive rights could be at stake.
Her first goals when she arrives to the Capitol in January? “I look forward to leading on issues of gun violence prevention; criminal justice reform; ensuring that investment in the Massachusetts 7th is equitably distributed to address these transit inequities and access to affordable housing,” she said.
As for her positions on the hot-button issues of the day, she hails from the progressive wing of the party.
She has called for the abolition of I.C.E., arguing, “To be clear, that was an agency that was created in the wake of 9/11 to protect us from terrorists. We don’t need to be protected from children and families seeking asylum.”
Pressley supports Medicare for All, a proposal first raised by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, that would expand Medicare to all Americans. A recent study from a conservative organization found the proposal would not be more expensive than the current system, but it could send shockwaves through the economy by disrupting the multi-billion-dollar health insurance industry.
“In order for us to have a thriving economy, we need to have a healthy workforce,” Pressley said, responding to that concern. “So I think it’s very disruptive that people are dying from diseases that are very preventable because they can’t afford medical care.”
Pressley has also called for the impeachment of President Trump, arguing he obstructed justice and has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by profiting off visits from foreign leaders.
But many within the Democratic Party have been reluctant to talk about impeachment, fearing it will hand ammunition to President Trump ahead of the midterm elections.
“My loyalty is to the 7th district,” Pressley responded to that concern, “and this president is rolling out policies every day that are of great consequence to the people of the 7th.”