Ayanna Pressley’s win in Massachusetts’ Seventh Congressional District on Tuesday night was another resounding win for women candidates — and specifically, women of color.
The most obvious example of women winning was Pressley’s surprise upset over Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) on Tuesday night, but women candidates in other races pulled out victories. Lori Trahan — who served as chief of staff to former Rep. Marty Meehan — appears to have emerged out of a competitive, 10-person race to replace retiring Rep. Niki Tsongas in Massachusetts’ Third Congressional District.
With Trahan a little more than 100 votes ahead of her closest competitor, she declared victory early Wednesday morning. But Dan Koh, former chief of staff to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, has not conceded, and the race is still too close to call.
If her win is certified, Trahan will face off against Republican Rick Green in November. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) ran unopposed in her primary and will face Republican Geoff Diehl in November.
In another prominent down-ballot race, MassDOT and Massport general counsel Rachael Rollins won the Democratic primary for the Suffolk County district attorney position. Rollins, also a woman of color, will face off against independent candidate Michael Maloney in the fall.
In MA-07, Pressley ran on the message that true representation of all constituents — including voters of color — has important implications for politics and policymaking. This point was hammered home by the fact that she was running against Capuano, a House Democrat with a fairly progressive record.
Capuano and Pressley have similar beliefs on most issues, but ultimately, voters chose Pressley’s argument that she could represent a majority-minority district better because she shared experiences with many of her future constituents.
Pressley and Trahan join a roster of women candidates that has grown with nearly every primary election night.
And it’s not just the winners who are notable. This is a record year for women running. As the Center for American Women and Politics tracked ahead of the Massachusetts primary:
In U.S. House races in Massachusetts, 10 women (9D, 1R) are running in primaries in 6 of 8 of the state’s congressional districts. This is a high water mark for women running as Democrats and Republicans over the last decade. Four of those 10 candidates are women of color running in Democratic primaries. Two women, Ayanna Pressley and Tahira Amatal-Wadud, are challenging male incumbents in their party primaries, while the other two women of color, Bopha Malone and Juana Matias, are running in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts’ 3rd congressional district, where current Representative Niki Tsongas (D) is retiring this year.
Vox’s Matt Yglesias also wrote a few weeks ago about women candidates running this year in unprecedented numbers.
Women, and especially college-educated women, have been the epicenter of political backlash to Donald Trump ever since the record-breaking Women’s March on Washington that quickly followed his inauguration. That trend, paired with Trump’s overall unpopularity, appears set to launch the number of women in Congress to unprecedented levels. Trump has inspired a record number of women to run for Congress and win Democratic Party nominations.
So far across the 41 states that have held their primaries, 41 percent of all Democratic Party nominees — and 48 percent of all non-incumbent nominees — are women, a level that simply obliterates all previous records.
Since the time Yglesias wrote that, even more women candidates have been added to that list. And Pressley, for one, holds the benefit of not needing to face a Republican in the fall — as no Republicans were on the ballot in her liberal district.
Instead, she’s headed straight to Congress.