Democratic incumbents face challenges from party’s left wing

By Yawu Miller, Bay State Banner

That state Rep. Angelo Scaccia has challengers is not a surprise. The conservative-leaning Hyde Park Democrat was first elected in 1973 and represents a district with a voting population that has shifted from majority Italian American to majority people of color.

Among those who have pulled papers to take on Scaccia, one of the longest-serving representatives in the House, are criminal justice reform activist Segun Idowu and former Women’s Bar Association president Gretchen Van Ness.

But Scaccia isn’t the only long-term incumbent House member facing a challenge. Jamaica Plain Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez and South End Rep. Byron Rushing are facing their first challengers in years. Rushing’s opponent, Jonathan Santiago, is a physician working at Boston Medical Center who is active in progressive causes and in the Ward 9 Democratic Committee. Sanchez’s opponent, Nika Elugardo, a former legislative aide to Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, has led anti-human-trafficking and youth violence prevention campaigns.

Rep. Liz Malia, who easily fended off a challenge from former radio host Charles Clemmons Muhammad in 2016, is facing a challenge from Ture Turnbull, executive director of MassCare, a campaign for a single-payer healthcare system in the state.

Along with At-large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s challenge to 7th Congressional District Rep. Michael Capuano, District 8 City Councilor Josh Zakim’s challenge to Secretary of State William Galvin, and paralegal Katie Forde’s challenge to Suffolk County Register of Deeds Stephen Murphy, the four House challengers represent a push from the left wing of the Democratic party that mirrors a similar leftward push at the national level with proponents pushing for single-payer health care, wage support for low-income earners and more liberal immigration laws.

In Massachusetts, candidates on the left wing of the party are pushing back against what many see as the Legislature’s politically conservative Democratic leadership.

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