The message of 2018 elections
Hello, Mike Capuano and Richard Neal?
Hello, Mike Capuano and Richard Neal? We have a message for you.
That message was delivered loud and clear and if they weren’t paying attention, they’ll learn it in a New York minute. The message was no seat is safe, regardless of money, seniority, or casting the right votes.
Boston University graduate and political neophyte Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the vessel for the message when she soundly defeated incumbent US Rep. Joseph Crowley in a Democratic primary in New York Tuesday. Joseph Crowley, as in the number 4 Democrat in the House. Joseph Crowley, as in a potential successor to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a potential speaker should Democrats take the House in the fall. That Joseph Crowley.
Ocasio-Cortez, whose campaign was fueled mostly by social media, was bolstered in the get-out-the-vote effort by troops sent down by Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who is hoping to send a similar message to Capuano in the Democratic primary in the state’s 7th Congressional District come September.
- Woman of color with progressive bona fides in a left-leaning majority-minority district: Check.
- Call for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency: Check.
- Hammer home the theme of a representative who has been in Washington so long, he’s lost touch with his district: Check.
- Tie your opponent to Pelosi and keep your own distance: Check.
- Get your message out in spite of being outspent 10 to 1: Check.
Anyone who thinks what happens in New York stays in New York is not getting it. The seismic rumblings of disaffected and disappointed Democrats have been shaking the ground around the country as strident progressives and supporters of Bernie Sanders say there’s not been enough resistance to President Trump.
Trump, to no surprise, made the outcome about him, suggesting in a tweet that Crowley lost because of his criticism of Trump. “Perhaps he should have been nicer, and more respectful, to his President!” It’s doubtful Ocasio-Cortez will break bread with Trump anytime soon.
Pressley is looking to marshal that fervor to overcome the grasp Capuano has had on the seat since winning it 20 years ago, back when it was the 8th Congressional District. Capuano, a former Somerville mayor, has been a liberal champion for the district that includes some of the Boston area’s most left-leaning constituencies. He points out that there won’t be many differences in the way Pressley would vote than the way he has.
Capuano, though, is taking Pressley a lot more seriously than Crowley did Ocasio-Cortez. Crowley did not show up at a debate with Ocasio-Cortez, instead sending a Latina surrogate, a tone-deaf action that Ocasio-Cortez drove home to voters. Capuano has yet to miss a chance to appear at forums with Pressley. And, unlike Crowley, Capuano isn’t hoarding his money for the end of the race, already spending more than half of what he raised, according to the most recent filings.
And while much of the focus on the result is on the Capuano-Pressley race, it holds some caution for Neal in western Massachusetts as well. The dean of the state’s House delegation is facing a primary challenge from Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, a Muslim, civil rights lawyer, and, like Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez, woman of color.Like Capuano and Crowley, Neal is high up on the House food chain and in line for a powerful position as chair of the Ways and Means Committee, where he is currently the ranking member. And like Crowley and Capuano, Neal enjoys the support of Pelosi and much of the Democratic establishment. But much of that could also be said of would-be speaker Eric Cantor before he was defeated in the 2014 Republican primary.