Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 2? Ayanna Pressley Is Attempting to Ride the Progressive Wave in Massachusetts Primary

The Democratic primary race in Massachusetts's 7th district could be another notable case in what has become a theme this season: A progressive underdog successfully challenging her moderate incumbent opponent.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year old Democratic socialist, upset Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley earlier this year. In New York's gubernatorial race, Cynthia Nixon is successfully pushing two-term governor Andrew Cuomo to the left. In Florida, Democratic Socialist and Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum beat out Representative Gwen Graham, the expected winner.

Now, in Eastern Massachusetts, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, 44, is giving incumbent and establishment candidate Representative Mike Capuano, 66, a run for his money.

Pressley, who is black, is running on the far-left platform that has taken shape in races across the country—Medicare for all, abolishing ICE, and eliminating the cash bail system. Like Beto O'Rourke, she has refused to take any PAC money. But unlike Ocasio-Cortez and Nixon, Pressley has a history in politics. In 2009, she became the first woman ever elected to Boston's City Council.

"If you look at other places, you look at [Florida Democratic nominee for governor] Andrew Gillum and you look at Ocasio-Cortez, there's a lot of evidence from other elections that there is a little bit of a progressive wave of voters that are coming out in these primaries," Doug Rubin, founding partner of Northwind Strategies and former chief of staff to former Governor Deval Patrick told Politico. "If that's the case here, then I think she will change the electorate and have a really good chance of winning. That's an open question right now."

Capuano, meanwhile, has not faced a serious challenger since he first took office in 1999.

But Capuano has received endorsements from Representative Joe Kennedy, John Lewis and the AFL-CIO. He also has a double-digit lead in the polls. Pressley's camp says polling is light and that the 7th district, the only in Massachusetts that is not majority white, may want more accurate representation. She has gained endorsements from two major Boston papers, the Herald and the Globe.

"Pressley, who was the first black woman elected to the City Council and would be the first black woman ever elected to Congress in Massachusetts, has rare political talents, combining personal charisma with a shrewd understanding of how to translate values into policy," wrote the Globe's editorial board.

Ocasio-Cortez also endorsed Pressley, bringing her national media attention.

Turnout Tuesday is expected to be low, and low turnout typically signals an incumbent win, but the Pressley camp has said this primary will be different. Spokeswoman Sarah Groh told Politico that Pressley is following in Ocasio-Cortez's footsteps and invigorating a group of underrepresented voters who typically don't show up to the polls. The campaign, she said, is going to "rewrite the map and redesign who a primary election voter is."