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Meet Ayanna Pressley, the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Massachusetts Primary

A surprising upset in the Bay State

|||MARCO GARCIA/REUTERS/NewscomMARCO GARCIA/REUTERS/Newscom

Ayanna Pressley, touted as the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just won a Massachusetts primary.

Ocasio-Cortez beat 10-year incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D–N.Y.) in the Democratic primary for New York's 14th Congressional District race in June. Ocasio-Cortez worked the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D–Mass.), was an organizer for Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I–Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign, and worked as a bartender prior to her win. The upset received national attention largely because Ocasio-Cortez is a card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America. As FiveThirtyEight reports, a Massachusetts candidate has followed in the footsteps of the young Ocasio-Cortez with a surprising upset against a mainstream Democrat challenger on Tuesday evening.

Ayanna Pressley beat Rep. Michael Capuano (D–Mass.) in the state's 7th Congressional District in a historic upset. Parallels between Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez were quickly observed as Pressley went up against a Democratic incumbent who was first elected into office in 1998. The comparisons ended there, however, as Capuano is already very progressive on various issues, such as Medicare for all. Pressley's positions are also very progressive. For example, her campaign promoted a "listening-only hearing" on gun violence that she put on while serving in local government. Additionally, Pressley entered her race with political experience, working 16 years as a congressional aide and serving nine years as a Boston city councilor. In fact, Pressley was the first black woman elected to the city's council and now, running unopposed, will be the first black woman Massachusetts sends to Congress.

Pressley enjoyed an endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter.

Other candidates who had been compared to Ocasio-Cortez were not as fortunate.

Tahirah Amatul-Wadud lost the state's 1st Congressional District to Rep. Richard Neal (D–Mass.). Like Crowley, Neal is an incumbent, serving his 15th term in the House. Amatul-Wadud would have been among the first Muslim women in Congress. While she was similarly outspent by her opponent, Amatul-Wadud did not raise much in her race, coming in at $113,000. According to her website, Amatul-Wadud's platform includes support for Medicare for all, opposing religious exemption laws, and promoting a path to citizenship for DREAMers.

Brianna Wu also lost her bid for the state's 8th Congressional District to challenger and incumbent Rep. Stephen Lynch (D–Mass.). Wu was also outspent by her opponent, but not as significantly as found in other races. Wu works as a video game designer and was a victim of Gamergate. Similar to Ocasio-Cortez, Wu was much more progressive than her more opponent, who is known for being a more conservative Democrat. Her website lists criticisms of the "one percent" as well as support for a Universal Basic income, gun control, and single-payer healthcare, calling it a "right."

Other Democratic socialist candidates have not been successful this year. Candidates in high-profile campaigns across the country who were jointly backed by Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders have lost their races at alarming rates.

Photo Credit: MARCO GARCIA/REUTERS/Newscom

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  • DajjaI||

    I definitely feel bad for millenials because we solved all the interesting problems. They have nothing to look forward to or strive to. Actually, I think the best thing they can do would be to vote for people who vow to fight their elders who are mortgaging away their future on social security and medicare. They are young and healthy and don't need it. Sure they will some day, but they can save up for it themselves with all the money they save on taxes. Plus, maybe they will get swept up in the Rapture and won't have to worry about it.

  • perlchpr||

    Yeah, unfortunately, they're going completely the opposite direction from dumping socsec and medicare.

  • Echospinner||

    Can that wait until I am dead? Paid a lot of money and would like some return. Or they could just give it back at 7% compounded.

    Yeah it doesn't work that way. There is no fund. There is no investment.

    I know millenials don't get it.

    To me the Sanders social democrats are just interesting. People think along the x axis - left or right. It is the y axis that matters more but libertarians knew that all along.

    That is what makes us dangerous.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I just consider it good sense to ruin or destroy anyone who plans on enslaving me. The progtards are really presenting an excellent case for purging them lately. Though ,y preference would be they simply abandon all their beliefs and leave everyone alone. Then I have no reason to see them all face down in landfills.

  • Echospinner||

    I thought leaving each other alone was the point.

    How has Ayanna Pressley winning a primary hurt you personally. Name one thing.

    Socialism fails. It never works.

    Free market capitalism and individual liberty has been the greatest driver of human prosperity in history.

    We should not be afraid.

  • VinniUSMC||

    Before socialism fails, it kills millions of people. I'd rather not give them the chance.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    They are like Karl Marx Terminator models that wont stop 'helping' you into the gulags.

  • perlchpr||

    Can that wait until I am dead?

    Someone's going to be left standing when the music stops. It'll hurt less the sooner it happens and can be prepared for.

  • DarrenM||

    I definitely feel bad for millenials because we solved all the interesting problems.

    Don't worry. They'll just create new problems.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    I have to ask a question. Am I the only one not taking crazy pills? These folks being bandied about as the savior of our country do nothing to disprove the wonderful theories laid out in Idiocracy.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Crazy pills are available over the counter without a prescription.

  • Agammamon||

    *Technically* Comrade. Unfortunately, there was a slight hiccup in fulfilling the 5-year plan and so while crazy pills are sold OTC and for less than the cost of production, there are none to be had.

  • Longtobefree||

    If you have not been taking your crazy pills, please report to the court house immediately. The Sheriff or a deputy will be pleased to help you correct that deficiency; in 5 to 10 years.

  • H. Farnham||

    "Candidates... jointly backed by Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders have lost their races at alarming rates."

    Interesting choice for an adjective there. I probably would have gone with something like "...lost their races at 'pleasing or refreshing' rates."

  • Agammamon||

    Yeah, I'm not sure why Zuri Davis here, having chosen to write work for Reason, would be anything other than pleased at the number of losses.

  • Kivlor||

    You dont read Reason very much do you?

  • ||

    What I'm seeing is a quarantined contagion.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    It might seem counterintuitive at first, but democratic socialists like Ocasio-Cortez are natural allies for us libertarians. Most importantly, we agree on the need to #AbolishICE. And of course, anybody running as a Democrat is almost guaranteed to have the correct libertarian position on abortion access — no legal restrictions whatsoever, even in the third trimester. Those are the twin pillars of Koch / Reason libertarianism, and this exciting new movement of younger Democrats already embraces both!

    This looks very promising for the future of the progressive / libertarian alliance.

    #LibertariansForOcasioCortez

  • perlchpr||

    Totally unreasonable to limit abortion to the third trimester!

    I demand 17th trimester abortions!

  • Deadly Prancer||

    Hard to tell if parody anymore, but that goes with so much these days.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Yeah, thanks Putin.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Regional socialist primary winners who will likely lose the actual elections.

    Yup, news worthy.

    America is a majority slightly conservative nation.

    Its why nobody can tough social security. Its been the deal for 80+ years, so old conservatives wont change it until there is majority popular support.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    *touch social security...

  • perlchpr||

    Regional socialist primary winners who will likely lose the actual elections.

    "In fact, Pressley was the first black woman elected to the city's council and now, running unopposed, will be the first black woman Massachusetts sends to Congress."

  • VinniUSMC||

    running unopposed

    Even Hillary could have won if she ran unopposed. Well, maybe.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its hard to 'lose' an election when you run unopposed.

    Even a socialist from MA, CA, WA, and NY means nothing overall.

    Bernie is a Communist from VT and he will be leaving Congress someday soon.

  • Azathoth!!||

    I'm sorry-- is no one going to comment on the fact that this, one of the bluest of blue states, as Democrat as Democrat can be, is only now sending a black woman to Congress, and only because she's running unopposed?

    revealed versus stated preferences anyone?

  • LarryA||

    America is a majority slightly conservative nation.

    The nationwide average is totally irrelevant if you're running in a liberal-majority district. Texas is conservative enough that there are no Democrats in state-wide offices. But Houston, Austin, San Antonio and other cities reliably send Democrats to Congress. Ever heard of Sheila Jackson Lee?

  • Careless||

    These people are winning in democratic safe districts. They will be in Congress in four months.

  • SIV||

    Brianna Wu also lost her bid for the state's 8th Congressional District to challenger and incumbent Rep. Stephen Lynch (D–Mass.). Wu was also outspent by her opponent, but not as significantly as found in other races. Wu works as a video game designer and was a victim of Gamergate.

    You could say he was just "re-victimized" by the Bay State voters.

  • Anti-Fasciitis||

    Lynch is both challenger and incumbent?

  • Agammamon||

    Wu works as a video game designer and was a victim of Gamergate.

    1. *Technically* - she's got a whole one game under he belt after 5 years. Skyrim it ain't. And she loves to call herself a 'software engineer' despite doing, you know, no software engineering. She studied 'political science', not comp-sci, and then was a political fundraiser and journalist. Woman's CV suggests she barely knows her way around an iphone.

    2. What the hell? No. That is complete and utter bullshit. a) *She* put herself in the middle of that crap and b) she was the 'victim' of a bunch of morons in 8chan - not Gamergate. There is a damn difference if you could be bothered to understand what the root complaint of gamergate was. Not saying she deserved the shit she got after being doxxed - but that wasn't gamergate.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    If she can't do her work, then perhaps she should quit her bitchin' and get back to the kitchen, and bake the menfolk a pie.

    I love pie. I don't like incompetent software engineer chicks who blame their failures on sexism as opposed to their own shortcomings and sloth.

  • Anti-Fasciitis||

    Yep. Laypeople confuse "designer" with "developer" but those of us in the industry know there's a world of difference. Any fuckstick can be a designer.

  • Echospinner||

    She could be a cashier at Kmart.

    That would make her no more qualified than our president.

  • Echospinner||

    That guy Trump has never actually bought anything at Kmart by himself Like a garden hose then used it.

    Trump has people for that. They are servents. Always had all his life. He reminds us every day about his great education, genius and upbringing.

    What did conservatives used to say.

    I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.
    William F. Buckley Jr.

  • MasterThief||

    That stuck out to me as well. I had no clue that Wu was running for office, but to call her a victim of Gamergate rather than one of the primary violators that caused it is silly. People were shitty to her and she was shitty back. Don't care.

  • Bramblyspam||

    This upsetting of Democratic establishment representatives reminds me of the Republicans' Tea Party phenomenon from a few years back. For the most part, I don't think the voters are as enamored with socialism as people think. I think they mainly want to boot out the establishment. For my part, I'm happy to see establishment candidates go down in flames.

    Some time ago, someone remarked that the real revolution will happen when the Tea Partiers and the Occupiers figure out what they have in common and start working together. Both groups hate crony capitalism. Far fetched though the notion may seem, there's something in it that tickles me.

  • Roger the Shrubber||

    The two groups identify the same problem, but their proposed solutions are in such opposition that cooperation would be impossible. Communism and Fascism would be a good analogy.

  • Mark22||

    The two groups identify the same problem, but their proposed solutions are in such opposition that cooperation would be impossible. Communism and Fascism would be a good analogy.

    Communism and fascism are nearly identical ideologies with nearly identical solutions. That's why they hated each other so much: they were competing for the same pool of followers.

  • FlameCCT||

    The problem is that Occupiers started with a good premise however they were taken over by Progressives and turned to violence and criminal behavior. Progressives are similar to their Communist tovarisch.

  • Skyhawk||

    Just another charlatan promising free stuff to retards.
    And by 'retards', I don't mean the window-lickers who hug strangers, but the economically-retarded voters that think her ideas are anything but the recycled stomach virus diarrhea that they are.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Brianna Wu also lost her bid for the state's 8th Congressional District to challenger and incumbent Rep. Stephen Lynch (D–Mass.).


    There is yet balm in Gilead.

    Wu works as a video game designer and was a victim of Gamergate.


    Hahaha. Well, that's the Twitter-safe version, sure. The internet makes it such that it's no longer certain that the winner writes the history books, so, maybe no firm bets on this.

  • ||

    So the answer for voters who don't like the DNC establishment is to go full progressive?

    Seems to me once upon a time progressives were somewhat literate and semi-functional so when they spoke they didn't sound like unhinged lunatics. They were able to get their feet in the door and eventually came to rule institutions they slowly began to run into the ground because well, they're just paddlers of Marxist babblings.

    Now? They don't even bother. It's straight stupidity - and they seem to be gaining traction. For me, anyone who votes or supports Sanders, Cortez et all have ZERO excuse for what they're about to do. NONE. Either they truly are illiterate or they're not and are just this stupid.

    I don't know how anyone can listen to Sanders firebrand gibberish or Cortez and conclude, 'I'm gonna vote for that!"

  • FlameCCT||

    Hell, the Democrat establishment is already controlled by Progressives along with most of the party.

  • pjmel||

    I'm surprise the Radical left hasn't proposed that everyone's entitled to a weeks paid holiday to anywhere they choose because to them everything's a right.

  • Horny Lizard||

    We send troops all expense paid on decade long vacations to the middle east all the time. We just need to rethink national security a little.

  • Horny Lizard||

    Omg did i just type that? I meant to say " send troops on all expenses paid decade long vacations"

  • Rockabilly||

    Ayanna Pressley, touted as the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just won a Massachusetts primary.

    Elvis' granddaughter is a commie nut job?

    Say it ain't so !!!

  • Shirley Knott||

    Increasingly, it strikes me that there is a fundamental disconnect in the discussion.
    Socialism, as promoted, is about ends, not means. This is, in large measure, why the "that's not really socialism" rejoinder is so easy to make. If the ends promised by socialism are not achieved, then it can't really be socialism.
    Capitalism, on the others hand, is about means, not ends. We don't care what you do with your freedom as long as you are free. But because markets are omnipresent, anything can be tarred as 'market oriented' and then abused for achieving 'undesirable' ends.
    This is, btw, one reason we are so often led to make utilitarian arguments — once we cede the argument to ends, utilitarianism is the most obvious route to make our case.

    So, we need to relentlessly hammer socialists on means. Deep and thorough focus on how those airy poorly defined but strongly felt ends are to be achieved. What, specifically, is to be done?
    The truth is, we have delivered the ends socialism promises, insofar as they are achievable, while socialism inevitably fails, and drags society backwards to bad ends.

  • damikesc||

    Remember, unlike the Tea Party, these airheaded dimbulbs AREN'T worthy of mockery nor will every Democrat be asked about every idiotic utterance from their bovine mouths.

  • NoVaNick||

    So what? Mass. voters have been electing leftist kooks like Pressley and Ocassio-Cortez to the state legislature and city councils for decades. Now, they have finally succeeded in sending one to Congress.

    For all I care, let the Millennials and GenYers replace every Congresspersyn and POTUS with a DemSoc, Bernie, or Warren. The most annoying progtards are the rich white ones who have benefitted from the capitalist system, and they will be the first to get burned at the stake.

  • Mark22||

    The most annoying progtards are the rich white ones who have benefitted from the capitalist system, and they will be the first to get burned at the stake.

    Don't bet on it. Under National Socialism, rich white progtards did quite well by getting into bed with the regime.

  • NoVaNick||

    Rich white progtards seem to care most about themselves in the end:

    They want "diversity", but get mad if they think it will keep their kid from getting into Harvard, or have to send them to public school with brown people

    They want free healthcare, but don't want to have to give up their personal doctor

    They want "equality" and "social justice", so long as it doesn't impact their 401K, or have to pay their nanny more

    They care about global warming and saving the cute polar bears, but refuse to turn down the thermostat in their McMansion, or stop flying around the world to go on exotic vacations

  • Mark22||

    Wu works as a video game designer and was a victim of Gamergate.

    It's unclear that Wu works at all; his company had one "product" five years ago whose revenue wouldn't cover anyone's salary at welfare rates.

    And it's probably more accurate to refer to Wu as a "troll" than a "victim".

  • damikesc||

    No joke. "Victim" is a massive, massive stretch. He was a rich spoiled little boy who blew money by the truckloads doing nothing and produced exactly one terrible, terrible game.

    I also love that he "left his house" due to threats...despite numerous news shows showing him in the exact same house every time.

    Why aren't Democrats being asked to defend this clown?

  • Anomalous||

    Ocasio-Cortez worked the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D–Mass.)

    I bet she worked him real good.

  • Longtobefree||

    Hey, she ain't totally stupid; she never let him drive her anywhere.

  • Salero21||

    As more and more 'Crats are coming out as what they really are, and that is Socialists, that will allow all the others to come out and run as what they really are—Commies. The likes of Bernie, Chucky, Corey, Cuomo, deBlasio, Gillibrand, Jerry, Kamala, Lizzie, Maxine, Pelousy, Cynthia, and the latest one the FAKE Portorican Alexandria, etc. etc.

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