She emerged on Monday as the leading voice of “the Squad,” not because hers is the loudest but because, in fact, it seems the most measured. Ayanna Pressley, diplomat of the bomb-throwers, seems like something of a contradiction in terms. But that’s how Boston’s freshman US representative is being pegged in the wake of the most high-profile moment of her young congressional career.
When the four minority freshman congresswomen convened a Capitol Hill press conference on Monday to respond to President Trump’s racist weekend tweets directed at them, it was Pressley who came to the mic first.
Fellow Squad member Rashida Tlaib told the Globe they chose Pressley to speak first because she sets a “positive, loving tone.”
“We wanted her to lead us in taking on the biggest bully probably in our lifetime,” said the Detroit congresswoman.
At age 45, Pressley is the senior member of the foursome, which also includes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
The four freshman lawmakers have emerged as the brash shock troops of the new left-leaning activist wing in the Democratic Party. They drew the ire of Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the only four Democrats to vote against a recent measure to send more money to border detention facilities. Ocasio-Cortez inflamed the situation further by charging Pelosi with singling out “newly-elected women of color.”
For two them — Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez — their willingness to challenge the status quo was evident in their election itself, upending veteran Democratic incumbents in primary elections last year.
The other two members, meanwhile, have shown plenty of fight of their own, with Tlaib famously telling a rally of activists hours after her January swearing-in what she had in mind for the president. “We’re going to impeach the motherfucker,” she exclaimed.
While Pressley’s membership in the bomb-tossing quartet is serving as her introduction to a national audience, those who followed her career in Boston would probably characterize her quite differently — as the consummate inside player. She spent more than a decade as a congressional staffer, first for Rep. Joseph Kennedy II and then for Sen. John Kerry. During her decade on the Boston City Council, Pressley was never known for high-profile tangles with Mayor Tom Menino or, following his retirement, Mayor Marty Walsh.
“There are real distinctions between them,” Attorney General Maura Healey says of Pressley and her three congressional colleagues in an interview with Globe columnist Adrian Walker, pointing to Pressley’s long track record in politics.
“I don’t think she had the option to throw bombs in the same way until she was surrounded by other like-minded individuals,” UMass Boston political science professor Erin O’Brien told the Globe. But that seems to ignore the years when she served with outspoken progressive councilors such as Tito Jackson, Michelle Wu, and Andrea Campbell.
Former congressman Barney Frank said Pressley has stood out from the other three Squad members by not offering the same sort of charged rhetoric, making him wonder why she’s joined up with them in their challenge to party leaders.
“My puzzlement about Pressley is that I haven’t seen her do anything that seemed to me mistaken the way the other three have, but then she joins them, and apparently agrees with their approach, and I think their approach is very wrong,” Frank told the Globe.
Critics say that more measured approach is not what Pressley displayed at a Netroots Nation conference on Saturday. “We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be brown voice. We don’t need any black faces that don’t want to be a black voice,” she told the crowd, comments that a Herald editorial slammed as a threat against anyone who would stray “from the progressive playbook.”
If Pressley’s split political personality as veteran inside player now pushing change sometimes seems hard to square, perhaps it also positions her as someone who can bridge the emerging intra-party divide and help Democrats avoid the sort of squad the party is more known for — the armed one that forms in a circle.
Bentley University professor Rob DeLeo says the best approach to funding municipal climate adaptation projects is combine elements of Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan for an increase in the real estate deeds transfer tax and the proposal offered by House Speaker Robert DeLeo (who is also his father) to rely on borrowing or bonding. (CommonWealth)
A State House committee heard testimony on a bill to ban flavored e-cigarette sales. (Telegram & Gazette)
An Eagle-Tribune editorial slams efforts on Beacon Hill to water down legislation that would impose a statewide plastic bag ban.
When she was Hamilton’s town clerk, Andrea Carlson Dello Russo accused Allison Jenkins, then a selectwoman, of harassment after Jenkins raised questions of Dello Russo’s handling of official business. A report put together by attorney Dan Bair found “no credible evidence” for that claim. (Salem News)
The local board of health blocked a Boy Scout camp from operating at a site in Granby because it is too close to an active gun range. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
Convenience stores in Barnstable face a July 28 deadline to stop selling flavored tobacco products, now that a Superior Court judge has denied a motion to prevent new Board of Health regulations from going into effect. (Cape Cod Times)
The House voted largely on party lines to condemn President Trump’s racist tweets against four minority congresswomen, with four Republicans joining with the Democratic majority. (Washington Post) The state’s three top elected Republican officials decried President Trump’s comments, but party officials with the Mass. GOP are staying silent on the issue. (CommonWealth)
The ACLU and other groups filed suit to block new, restrictive rules announced by the Trump administration for seeking asylum protection in the US. (CommonWealth)
Former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens, a steady Midwestern centrist who went on to become one of the court’s leading liberal voices, died at age 99. (New York Times)
MSNBC producers unearthed old footage of Donald Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein at Mar-a-Lago in 1992.
President Trump’s racist attack on four minority Democratic congresswomen seems to preview a reelection campaign strategy that will lean on stirring up racial animus in ways similar to his 2016 campaign. (Boston Globe)
Rachel Leabman-Colo claims in a lawsuit that she lost opportunities and was ultimately fired from her counselor position at Webster Public Schools after she asked to be separated from aggressive students – including one who allegedly pushed her – during her pregnancy. (MetroWest Daily News)
Beverly residents Henry and Donna Bertolon gave North Shore Community College its largest gift ever, a nearly $1.8 million donation that will enhance the school’s health care education in Danvers. (Salem News)
Emergency medical providers have a dim view of opioid use disorder treatment, according to a new survey from RIZE Massachusetts and the GE Foundation. (WBUR)
A new consortium of 12 Boston-area hospitals has pledged to increase training of its physicians in dealing with opioid addiction. (Boston Globe)
Decrying the recent fare hike on riders, Phineas Baxandall of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center says the long-term fix for MBTA financing is to address the flawed funding formula that relies on a portion of the sales tax and a regressive income tax structure. (CommonWealth)
On his political website, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh shared his answers to a Boston Globe transit survey, describing how he grew up in an “MBTA family” and reporting that he last took the T within a week of filling out the questionnaire.
Now that commuter rail service has been restored to Rockport, residents are up in arms over the noisy idling of locomotives, and they want answers from Keolis Commuter Services. (Gloucester Daily Times)
The state Department of Conservation and Recreation has bought a half-acre of land in Wellfleet, with a plan to expand parking and improve safety at the northern end of the proposed 2-mile extension of the rail trail that stretches from Yarmouth to Wellfleet. (Cape Cod Times)
Richard Parker is scheduled to be released Friday from state prison following his 2015 conviction for kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon and intimidation of a witness and sentenced to 4 to 6 years in state prison. Parker was allowed to live with his wife, Kimberly Boleza Parker, while facing an attempted murder charge against her and was the only other person home the evening she died of undetermined causes. (Brockton Enterprise)
Narcotics detectives seized crack cocaine, nearly $2,500 in cash and arrested electrician Ryan Potter on trafficking charges in a drug bust in New Bedford on Monday night. (Standard Times)
A 19-year-old protester was sentenced to 10 days in prison for blocking the entrance of the Bristol County House of Correction in Dartmouth at a demonstration over the prison’s connection to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement last August. (Standard Times)
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins laid into Boston Globe reporters Andrea Estes and Shelley Murphy, saying they ignored positive stories in recent coverage that examined Rollins’s record. (WGBH)