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AT THE CENTER OF PEOPLE, PLANNING & POLITICS
Bay state banner. Fierce competition for votes, money in 2019 council race. PUBLISHEd april 29, 2019.
Tufts Magazine. How Wilnelia Rivera is rewriting the political rules and fighting to make sure underrepresented groups are heard.
aMPLIFY Latinx and encuentro diasporo afro. Afro-Latino 365 celebrating black history month. Feature on wilnelia rivera.
THE boston banner. Vacancies spur city council candidates. Published online april 10, 2019.
NATIONAL JOURNAL. “Lynch Looks to Avoid Being Next Primary Casualty.” Published on april 10, 2019.
Rep. Stephen Lynch, a former ironworker with a wicked strong Boston accent, feels like a throwback to a different era of Democratic politics.
It’s especially apparent in the 116th Congress, with big-city, machine-backed politicians Bob Brady, Joseph Crowley, and Michael Capuano having departed Capitol Hill last year and Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois facing another formidable primary challenge from the left.
That makes the Massachusetts incumbent, now serving his ninth full term, an attractive target for a primary challenger, especially since the 8th District is solidly Democratic. But it would still be a big lift for a progressive in a blue-collar seat that Democratic consultant Mary Anne Marsh called “tailor-made” for Lynch.
One of three Democrats still in the House who opposed the Affordable Care Act, Lynch had a reputation as a social conservative early in his tenure. But analyses of his voting record by the Almanac of American Politics show a distinct leftward shift in recent years on social issues, as he has come to support LGBT rights and upholding Roe v. Wade.
“He sticks out like a sore thumb,” said Sean McElwee, cofounder of the progressive group Data for Progress and a leader in the effort to move the Democratic Party left.
Lynch already has two challengers: video-game developer Brianna Wu, who garnered roughly one quarter of the vote against Lynch last year after a campaign she admits she ran poorly, and physician Mohammad Dar, who launched his first bid for office last month.
Wu said in an interview that she plans to emphasize health care and education on the campaign trail. She also said she was prepared to run again in 2020 even before losing last year and has “learned the lessons” of her first race, planning a traditional campaign structure instead of the handful of paid staffers she had last time.
She is already instituting changes. After not doing call time and raising just $113,000 last cycle, Wu said she was fundraising in California last week.
Dar told National Journal that voters are looking for someone who will fight for progressive policies, particularly on health care and the environment, unlike Lynch. He could draw a contrast between his support of Medicare-for-all and the incumbent’s opposition to it. “These moments call us to incredibly bold action,” he said.
Capuano lost decisively to now-Rep. Ayanna Pressley in the neighboring 7th District last year, but not all districts are created equal. The 8th District has gentrified more slowly than the neighboring, minority-white 7th, and it contains significantly less of Boston’s residential areas than the 7th.
“This is not Cambridge or Somerville,” said one Massachusetts Democrat supportive of Lynch.
Wilnelia Rivera, who was Pressley’s general strategist, cautioned that the Pressley playbook may not be replicable given the demographics and Lynch’s popularity locally.
“Because Lynch hasn’t been challenged in a long time, it’s open season. But whoever runs will have to raise a lot of money,” said Rivera, who advised challengers to “approach it at a block-to-block level” as opposed to the Pressley campaign’s digital-heavy strategy that mostly forsook traditional TV advertising.
The better model for progressives may be 1,000 miles away in Chicagoland, where Lipinski faces a likely rematch with progressive Marie Newman in a similarly suburban, blue-collar, historically Democratic district.
“Lynch is basically out of step with what it means to be a Democrat today,” McElwee said. “But the difference with Capuano and Crowley was that they were out of step with what it means to be a progressive.”
While some incumbents may appear rusty or unprepared if they haven’t had a recent challenge, Lynch allies say he shouldn’t be underestimated on the stump.
“Stephen Lynch has always defied political gravity,” said Marsh, who noted the congressman defeated former state Senate President William Bulger’s son in his first state Senate race and beat progressive favorite and fellow state Sen. Cheryl Jacques in his first election to the House, a 2001 special.
But for Democratic voters in the district, which has diversified from being largely white working-class when Lynch was first elected, his common touch may matter more than national trends affecting the party.
Multiple sources said the congressman is well-known for his constituent-services operation and has made it a point to be visible in the district, and the former Ironworkers Local 7 president has deep support from organized labor.
Despite that, Wu singled out working-class, racially diverse Brockton, the second-largest town in the district, as a place where her message may resonate. She said Lynch has “ignored” parts of the district outside of his South Boston base.
Unlike Pressley, who was an at-large member of the Boston City Council, it is highly unlikely any sitting or former officeholders will take on Lynch.
“What Ayanna did in breaking the incumbency rule in Massachusetts is definitely not the tradition, and even more so in that district,” Rivera said. “It’s much more parochial.”
Scott Ferson, a spokesman for Lynch’s campaign, said that while the congressman isn’t taking anything for granted he is more focused on presenting his own case than going after Wu or Dar.
“You have to concentrate on what you can do and not try to control other candidates,” Ferson said. “It’s their job to make that sale.”
GINA CHristo joins SUE O’connell of the take on necn to talk joe biden and why his time is Up. AIRED on April 5, 2019.
WASHINGTON TIMES. DCCC snub emboldens insurgent liberals: 'If that means getting blacklisted ... then so be it.' PUBLISHED ONLINE on APril 4, 2019.
WILNELIA RIVERA joins host jim braude of wgbh’s greater boston. aired on APril 2, 2019.
THE TUFTS DAILY NEWSPAPER. ALUMNI Q&A: WILNELIA RIVERA. PUBLISHED ONLINE MarCh 25, 2019.
Boston globe. St. Guillen’s passion for politics began in tragedy. published march 19,2019.
NEW YORK TIMES. Elizabeth Warren Loses Finance Director as She Struggles in Early Fund-Raising. Published March 31, 2019.
Local business coalition looks to benefit Boston without big name corporations. Wilnelia Rivera JOINS PANEL to talk amazon 2.0
"... [residents] of] Queens
opposed construction of Amazon HQ2 because they feared they would be excluded from the economic growth the corporation would bring."
Wilnelia Rivera, Founder and Principal Rivera Consulting, Inc.
Wilnelia Rivera joins jim Braude of wgbh’s greater boston to talk about the recent state of the union. PaNel for wgbh news. aired february 5, 2019.
Wilnelia Rivera talks about her role in developing strategy for the successful challenge for Congress in the Mass. 7th District by Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. Interview for BNN News. Aired December 7, 2018.
FIRm FOUNDER talks about activating the massachusetts electorate. AiRED on OCTOBER 22, 2018.
Political consultant trades on organizing experience
At the national level, the Democrats’ longstanding strategy of taking more moderate stances to reach out to the so-called swing voters has hampered the party’s efforts to engage younger, more progressive voters, Rivera said. Reaching those voters requires a break from the old playbook, with its emphasis on television advertisements and direct mailings.
“When you have a larger electorate of millennials and people of color, you have to spend money to reach them,” Rivera said. “If you’re a millennial, you may have lived in six different apartments in the last seven years. You’re not getting direct mail. But you may see a video on your friend’s news feed.”
Rivera says her firm remains well-positioned to help candidates reach those voters.
Ultimately, Rivera sees in the groundswell of younger, more liberal voters that swept Massachusetts and the nation promising signs for a re-invigorated Democratic Party.
“Black people, immigrant people and people of color need to come together, rebuild the party and rebuild the country,” she said. “We need to do it in collaboration with everyone else, but we need to be at the forefront.”
Ayanna pressley’s victory: A political earthquake that reflects a changed boston
The morning after her upset political victory, Ayanna Pressley ascended a stage in Dorchester a few blocks from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, greeting activists who had gathered to unify the party and to see a trailblazer — black, female, Bostonian — now poised to assume the old J.F.K. congressional seat.
“This is a tribal and parochial place,” Ms. Pressley, 44, said Wednesday, surrounded by Boston political leaders old and new as she ruminated on the hurdles that others said would prevent her from winning…The campaign did not have the money or the inclination to air traditional broadcast television ads, which would not have been able to successfully target people in the district. Instead, it ran one Spanish-speaking ad on Telemundo and used other local ethnic media to reach their audience.
“Our strategy was to expand the electorate and ignite the base,” said Wilnelia Rivera, a political strategist who has long worked with Ms. Pressley. “We trained new activists to engage in a new form of political campaign and to reach the pool of people who don’t normally vote.”
candidates of color break new ground in the contest for campaign cash
It has long been a fact of Boston politics that inner-city minority candidates, representing poorer, largely black and brown constituents, can’t raise large amounts of campaign money…Judging by campaign finance reports filed this week, however, that longstanding truism might no longer be true.
“This is more than just one cycle,” says Wilnelia Rivera, general consultant for Ayanna Pressley’s congressional campaign. “This is the cycle that we’re seeing at scale the lessons we’ve been learning for years.” Part of the change is coming from within the communities, as black and Hispanic residents are becoming more willing to contribute to political campaigns—and the candidates and campaign professionals are becoming more skilled at convincing them to do so.“Donors realize they’re giving money to the Democratic Party, and being told these candidates are not ‘viable,’” Rivera says. “They’re trying to figure out how to have a real progressive majority. This is really a debate of ideas about the direction of the party.”
pressley a one-of-a-kind public servant
While her opponent talked about the billions he brought back home, and his experience, she spoke of what she saw in front of her as she rode the Number One bus from Harvard Square to Dudley and saw life expectancy drop.
Unfairness and inequality were two words that were huge in this race. People saw inequity played out before them. Kids in cages. A president who could care less about people and told you so.
To win this race, Ayanna needed to have votes from everyone across the board and that she got.
Millennials ran her campaign and started a movement for change that brought others into the fold — all working, all together for another word with meaning — change. Many seasoned leaders created a kitchen cabinet of community leaders,who helped gauge the pulse of the community. Technology combined with shoe leather and old-fashioned organizing won the day.
Tomorrow, the real work begins.
Urban Newcomers Respond To Candidates Who Make Them Feel Like Part Of A Movement
"Perhaps more importantly, even some Pressley supporters concede that her campaign has not yet developed the organizational reach she needs, to win over the millennial left while also firing up turnout in black communities. Her ability to transform the new attention into effective field deployment in the final two months before the primary will test her team, particularly campaign manager Sarah Groh and consultant Wilnelia Rivera.
And besides, it’s not as if 2018 has been a terror for Democratic incumbents. Crowley is the only one to be defeated this year, after more than 300 congressional district primaries.
Regardless, the Ocasio-Cortez victory has demonstrated that the new, young urban voter is a powerful and growing force. They will undoubtedly have a say in choosing Boston’s next district attorney. Up in Lawrence, Lowell, and Haverhill they may be decisive in the primary to replace Niki Tsongas in Congress. And their representatives, whoever they may be, will soon be making real waves in Washington."
POLITICAL NewCOMER FROM NEW YORK with ties has new england ties
Pressley, who has become friendly with Ocasio-Cortez prefers to think of this race as a movement where she is championing the values of the people in the district, one of the most diverse in the country.
Wilnelia Rivera, Senior Advisor to Ayanna Pressley campaign explains the resistance to change, “Our first reaction is that the message is working…even in the movement you’re going to have some folks who are not a 100% with you but at least we are going to create a space for us to be uncomfortable together."
To watch the full NECN interview, click here.
Michael Capuano and Ayanna Pressley: What’s the difference?
On abortion rights, she says, she would go further than Capuano by working to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of most abortions.
And she said she would be a more effective advocate for immigrants by pushing for in-state tuition rates for undocumented students at public colleges and universities.
To crystallize the point, Wilnelia Rivera, Pressley’s political consultant, said: “The overarching message is the difference between a reliable vote and a champion.”
Pressley launches bid for congressional seat
“The residents of this district deserve a choice,” Pressley told her supporters. “The people of the 7th Congressional District aren’t concerned about the political inconvenience of any one man or woman and neither am I. What concerns me is the daily uneasiness, stress and worry of many folks in this room and many more beyond — longtime district residents are up at night wondering if one day soon they’ll be pushed out of the neighborhoods they cherish.”-
Veteran campaign strategist Wilnelia Rivera, who is serving as the Pressley campaign general manager, says her effort will focus on one-on-one contact with voters in the district.
“We’re excited to build a grassroots movement to talk to voters across this district,” she said.
Pressley Challenge To Capuano Takes Heart From New York Upset
"The upset primary victory in New York of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress is raising the question of whether Ayanna Pressley can do the same thing in Boston.
Pressley is challenging longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano.
Both challengers are women of color. Ocasio-Cortez is Latina. Pressley is African-American.
Both are pledging to eliminate U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency in charge of deporting people in the country unlawfully.
Both happen to be graduates of Boston University.
Pressley said on Radio Boston Wednesday that she's inspired by Ocasio-Cortez.
"She has been fearless and fierce in her convictions, and she has challenged and disrupted every conventional narrative about who has a right to run and who can win," said Pressley."