Pressley says key to winning 2020 is a ‘candid and frank’ Democratic party

Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley attended her final City Council meeting Tuesday.
Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley attended her final City Council meeting Tuesday.(Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/file photo)

Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley pushed for a Democratic Party “where the marginalized and the vulnerable are centered,” in a call to action this week at a Washington, D.C., meeting of party fund-raisers and donors.

Speaking before a crowd of about 300 at a Democratic National Committee meeting on Tuesday, the Dorchester Democrat said, “Many times during the election in church basements, bodegas, living rooms, and restaurants I would ask my constituents, my supporters, my skeptics, and my fellow Democrats: Are we really who we say we are?”

Specifically, Pressley advocated the party be one that “does not support putting $1 towards Trump’s hate wall,” that “calls out the murder of journalists abroad and the human rights violations at the border,” that pays its interns a living wage, asserts that health care is a human right, and encourages “healthy primaries.”


BuzzFeed News first reported Pressley’s comments. The Globe obtained a copy of her remarks Wednesday.

Pressley also mentioned Monday’s Boston City Council committee meeting, where more than a dozen residents from across the city aired their grievances about life in their neighborhood and ways to make it better. It was the last meeting Pressley will host as a city councilor before she takes office on Capitol Hill.

Speaking on Tuesday, Pressley said the youth at the council meeting asked, “Do black lives only matter in election years, when our votes are at stake?”

“I didn’t come here to make anyone uncomfortable, but I’m OK with doing that in the name and in pursuit of progress,” she said. “Those young people are demanding and expecting more from me, and I owe it to them.”

The key to winning in 2020, she said, will be applying the lessons learned during the midterm cycle. In order to do that, Pressley said the party has “to be candid and frank about when we lived our values and when we came up short on the values we espouse as a party.”


While an unprecedented number of women and candidates of color ran in the midterms, Pressley said the party “must push ourselves to ask tough questions about whether or not we provided them with the institutional support so we can break through more glass and concrete ceilings as rapidly as possible.”

In September, Pressley stunned 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano in the primary for the Seventh Congressional District. Two months later, she became the state’s first black woman elected to the US House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, Pressley said her congressional campaign “expanded the electorate, we ignited the electorate by not making assumptions about who desires and deserves to have a seat at the table of Democracy.”

“I ran to fight for the ignored, the left out, and the left behind, and that is not only true for the electorate,” she said. “Together, we’ll do that work — beginning with our own party.”

Steve Kerrigan, a Lancaster resident who was the party’s lieutenant governor nominee in 2014, was at the meeting and called Pressley’s comments inspiring.

“It was a good conversation about what we as a Democratic Party should be looking at moving forward,” he said.

Daniel Halpern, who is on the DNC’s finance committee, said Pressley’s message was that the party is “at its best when the party has everyone at the table.”


“It was all very positive, it was all very uplifting,” he said.

Milton J. Valencia of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.