Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley said Wednesday that she will not accept corporate donations in her race against Representative Michael E. Capuano, a pledge designed to paint the 10-term Somerville Democrat as beholden to special interests.
Pressley said she would encourage Capuano to join her in refusing donations from corporate political action committees.
“From drug companies to health insurers to Wall Street banks, big corporations are spending millions to buy influence in Washington and drown out the voices of regular people,” Pressley said in a statement. “The 7th congressional district is among the most unequal districts in America, and if we’re serious about addressing the needs of its working families, we need to say no to corporate influence on our elections, and hold ourselves accountable to the voters of the district.”
Pressley’s campaign said she will accept money from PACs affiliated with unions and liberal interest groups. The campaign also said it would give back $5,000 from the Atlanta Restaurant Partners, LLC, a corporate donation that was flagged by the Globe after Pressley released her statement. The Pressley campaign said it would ask the company’s chief executive, Daniel Halpern, to donate the money instead from his personal account.
Sam Raymond, Capuano’s campaign manager, did not respond directly to Pressley’s push to have the congressman reject corporate PAC money.
“No one has fought harder in Congress against corporate special interests than Congressman Capuano, standing up every day for the people of the 7th District,” Raymond said in a statement. “And Congressman Capuano is the only one in this race who’s actually voted for campaign finance reform to get the dark money out of politics. This is about a record of service for the people.”
Pressley is lagging behind Capuano in fund-raising. As of March 31, she had about $259,630 in her congressional account, compared with his $1.15 million, federal records show.
Capuano, who sits on the committees on financial services and transportation and infrastructure, has accepted about $168,900 from corporate PACs since 2017, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.
The donations came from an array of industries, including insurance, finance, and railroads.
The Sept. 4 primary contest between the two liberal Democrats is expected to be among the most closely watched and fiercely fought in the state.
While Capuano and Pressley agree on most issues, Pressley has said she would bring a new viewpoint to Congress.
At 44, she is a generation younger than Capuano, who is 66. She is also the first woman of color elected to the Boston City Council, and a survivor of childhood and college sexual assault whose father was in and out of prison when she was young.
Capuano, a proudly pugnacious former Somerville mayor, is campaigning on his experience in Washington and record of delivering for the district and fighting for liberal causes such as abortion rights and opposition to the Iraq War.
First elected to Congress in 1998, he argues that his seniority and clout mean he will be able to deliver even more for his district, if Democrats take back the House this fall.
The district encompasses 70 percent of Boston, as well as parts of Cambridge and Milton, and all of Chelsea, Everett, Randolph, and Somerville. It is the only one in the state where the majority of residents are people of color.Michael Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.