The Congressional Black Caucus backed Rep. Michael Capuano Friday over challenger Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, delivering a critical endorsement to the veteran Massachusetts congressman in a Democratic primary in which race — Capuano is white, Pressley is African-American — has served as the backdrop.
The contest is Capuano’s first serious primary challenge since he was elected in 1998. There are few substantive policy differences between the two progressive candidates, but Pressley argues that her background and life experiences as a woman, a person of color, and child of an incarcerated father provide her with a different lens through which she would represent the majority-minority district.
The CBC endorsement is one of a handful from prominent African-American individuals or groups that Capuano has rolled out recently as he seeks re-election in his Boston and Cambridge-area seat.
Capuano, who recently received an endorsement from former Gov. Deval Patrick, will co-host a town hall Saturday with civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who is in town to deliver commencement addresses at Harvard and Boston University and recently endorsed the 10-term incumbent. Capuano will also attend the first annual Haitian Flag Day parade in Randolph Friday.
“At a time when Donald Trump continues to spew hateful rhetoric and policies, we need a leader like Rep. Capuano in Congress,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks, chairman of the CBCPAC said in a statement. “Civil rights are under attack, and we need to fight back. Rep. Capuano has built his career on standing up for those who have been left behind, from healthcare, to transportation, to housing. We in the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee have a strong, committed partner in Mike and unanimously support his campaign for Congress.”
Capuano’s campaign attributed the CBC endorsement to a longstanding relationship between Meeks, Capuano and the CBCPAC, and noted that one of the motivations for the endorsement was Capuano’s voting record against the Trump administration. Capuano kicked off Trump’s tenure by not attending the president’s inauguration.
Pressley, who interned for former Rep. Joe Kennedy and worked as a senior aide for Sen. John Kerry, has served on the Boston City Council since 2009 when she was the first black woman elected to the body.
“Our campaign’s focus has not changed since day one: meeting voters where they are, and engaging with them about the issues, challenges, and opportunities that mean the most to them and their families,” Wilnelia Rivera, senior advisor to the Pressley campaign, said in response to the CBC’s endorsement. “Ayanna understands that the 7th Congressional District is one the most vibrant in America, but also one of the most unequal. This campaign is building an inclusive movement for every single voice that sees the potential of what is truly possible here.”