Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) will be hitting the campaign trail in support of Sen. Elizabeth Warren today, following her endorsement of the presidential front-runner on Wednesday.
“I have seen Ms. Warren in small church basements and in packed gymnasiums,” Pressley said in the video announcement. “And she is consistent. She never loses sight of the people. You’ve all heard about the senator’s plans—but here’s the thing. Her plans are about power: who has it, who refuses to let it go, and who deserves more of it.”
In her endorsement of Warren, Pressley emphasized a hallmark of her own campaign for congress—effecting big structural change and effecting it now.
“For Elizabeth and for me, power belongs in the hands of the people,” Pressley continued. “That’s why she’s fighting for fundamental change that restores power to those who’ve been left behind and centers those who’ve never had access to it in the first place.”
Many noted that in doing so, Pressley broke ranks with the rest of “the Squad”—four freshmen congresswomen widely regarded as the face of the Democrats’ progressive wing. Nearly a month ago, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) all endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Pressley refrained from endorsing anyone at the time, saying that she had “tremendous respect for her sisters-in-service” but would make her own decision. Many speculated that she would side with Warren, her home state senator. As Politico points out, the connection goes deeper than their roots in Massachusetts politics:
While her path to Congress mirrored Ocasio-Cortez’s in one respect — both women upset longtime Democratic congressmen — Pressley served on the Boston City Council for almost a decade before joining Congress as part of a diverse Democratic “blue wave” in last year’s midterms. She was a delegate for Hillary Clinton in 2016, while Ocasio-Cortez has said Sanders’ 2016 presidential run inspired her first foray into politics.
Pressley’s endorsement is likely to fuel speculation that the congresswoman could be in the running for Warren’s Senate seat should her White House bid be successful.
Pressley, the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress, told the Associated Press this week she’s been courted by other Democratic presidential contenders, including Sanders and Biden. As Warren tries to appeal to black voters throughout the country, Pressley’s credibility with the Democrats’ most stalwart voting block could prove crucial.
But Pressley’s endorsement is also a valuable reminder of the diversity of political thought in this current moment, and among black constituents historically. The Squad is a perfect example of how women of color can share similar political ideals and goals, but come to very different (and valid) conclusions about how best to achieve them. While both Sanders and Warren represent the Democratic “left lane,” the latter has called herself a “capitalist to the bone.” Sanders, meanwhile, has spent much of his career making the case for democratic socialism. While his policies have become more mainstream in recent years, his vision for America hinges on recognizing economic rights as human rights. Rep. Omar, in her endorsement of Sanders, emphasized this commitment to building a working-class movement in the U.S.
“That is why he is fighting to cancel all student debt. That is why he is fighting to make all school meals universal. That is why he is fighting for a humane immigration policy that treats immigrants as human beings and not criminals. And it’s why Bernie is fighting to end our forever wars and truly prioritize human rights in our foreign policy–no matter who violates them,” Omar said.
Pressley’s concerns are similar; in her endorsement of Warren she cited the senator’s plans to fight income inequality and close the racial wealth gap, as well as “taking on the epidemic of gun violence and working to dismantle structural racism.”
“Elizabeth has made it her life’s work to pursue justice for working families and put economic and political power in the hands of people,” Pressley added.“We find ourselves in a fight for the soul of our nation, and I know Elizabeth can win it.”
A casual stroll through the responses to Pressley’s endorsement video shows a lot of Sanders supporters criticizing her choice, but one person who didn’t follow suit is fellow Squad member Ocasio-Cortez. She replied to Pressley’s video with a single purple heart.