- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2018

Rep. Michael E. Capuano opposed the war in Iraq, wins high marks from liberal-leaning groups such as Planned Parenthood and is part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, joining the most left-leaning members of the House.

Yet Mr. Capuano is the latest Democrat to find himself in the crosshairs of grass-roots activists, who say his Massachusetts district has evolved and deserves someone new.

They’re backing Ayanna Pressley, whom they hope can duplicate the magic of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who caused a political earthquake with her primary victory last month over high-ranking Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley.

Both Ms. Pressley and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez are young minority women running in districts with minority populations — the former in Boston and the latter in New York City.

But Mr. Capuano says that’s where the similarities end.

“Every race in every district is different,” said Audrey Coulter, spokesperson for his campaign. “Mike is an unwavering fighter for progressive values who is taking on Donald Trump at every turn and working hard for the people he represents.”

Mr. Capuano, 66, has represented the area since 1999, assuming the seat after serving as mayor of Somerville. He been endorsed by former Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as well as the AFL-CIO, the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers and the Congressional Black Caucus.

And his campaign says it won’t be caught by surprise, the way many analysts said Mr. Crowley was in his race.

Ms. Pressley, meanwhile, has the support of former Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair John Walsh and Justice Democrats, a national liberal group that also backed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

And Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has used her newfound national profile to endorse Ms. Pressley.

“Vote her in next, Massachusetts,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez urged.

Sarah Groh, a Pressley spokesperson, said the Ocasio-Cortez victory gave the campaign a sense of that it was on the right path and part of something bigger.

“The job description for members of Congress has drastically changed,” Ms. Groh said. “It is not good enough to be reliable progressive vote. We need legislators in deep-blue districts who are on the front lines, who are organizers, who are advocates and who bring an approach of constructing policy with community at the table.”

Ms. Pressley has struggled to find issues on which to feud with Mr. Capuano — though she may have finally found one in immigration, joining the far-left call to rein in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the government’s agency that handles deportations, among other duties.

Scott Ferson, a Boston-based Democratic strategist, said Ms. Pressley faces an uphill battle but there is reason to believe the moment could be right for her.

“It is kind of another year of the woman and Ayanna Pressley is a woman and there is nothing Mike Capuano can do about that, and the second thing is she is a legit minority candidate in a majority minority district and there is nothing Mike Capuano can do about that,” Mr. Ferson said.

He said Mr. Capuano has been scandal-free, has been attentive to his district and is generally viewed favorably by voters there. But Ms. Pressley is drawing support from people who want to send a message.

“I talked to a lot of people who are going to vote for her, kind of just because it sends a statement,” he said. “The feeling is she would be as good as he is, and don’t we want new blood?”

The Boston Globe reported last week that Mr. Capuano raised $680,000 over the second fundraising quarter of the year, leaving him with $1.4 million cash on hand. Mrs. Pressley pulled in $370,000 over the same period of time, and has yet to share how much money it had in the bank.

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