Is the Democratic Party becoming more progressive or just browning? Is there a difference?
The story of Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s “upset” primary victory over 10-term Congressman Mike Capuano is a compelling one: young, progressive woman trounces Democratic establishment icon. The district wanted “change.” (At least, that’s how Capuano tells it.)
Pressley’s victory has drawn comparisons to democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise primary win over moderate Rep. Joe Crowley in New York. But the comparison misses the mark. And the narrative that Pressley’s victory is a harbinger of a progressive ascendancy within the bluest state’s Democratic Party obscures the truth about the results of last week’s primary election.
The real story is this: Capuano was redistricted out of office.
Prior to 2013, Capuano represented Massachusetts’s 8th Congressional District. After the 2010 census, however, Massachusetts lost a seat in the House of Representatives. When former Republican Sen. Scott Brown wrote to the redistricting committee advocating the creation of a majority-minority district, Capuano fired back defensively that the 8th was already “majority-minority.”
Why Scott Brown requested the new district I don’t know, but Republicans have been known to advocate majority-minority districts where it helps them preserve relatively white districts elsewhere. But they’re running out of white people and so are the democrats.
Something tells me the bench won’t be very deep on the Democrats’ side when being a minority is all but required.