When Rep. Ayanna Pressley won her primary last year, she did more than beat a 20 year incumbent — she and others sent a message to a whole new crop of Massachusetts Democrats itching to run for office in a state where congressional seats are often held for decades.
Shannon Liss-Riordan, who is challenging 43-year incumbent Sen. Ed Markey, said that Pressley and other Democratic insurgents last year "showed that with passion and with energy outsiders can win."
Liss-Riordan is one of several candidates taking on an entrenched member of the congressional delegation.
Ihssane Leckey running against the popular and well-funded Rep. Joe Kennedy, said, "My plan is to make allies with the wave that we sent to Congress last year."
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse is taking his chances, hoping to beat 30-year incumbent Richard Neal, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
"I think there is definitely an opportunity to be more aggressive, to hold the president accountable in a deeper way," Morse said.
Rep. Stephen Lynch faces Democratic challenger Brianna Wu for a second time, and Reps. Seth Moulton and Bill Keating will likely face primary challengers as well.
Stonehill College Dean Peter Ubertaccio said that the challengers are looking to take their chances now.
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"A lot of challengers are saying, you know, I'm not willing to wait 5, 10, 20 years for the seat to become available," he said.
Still, he added that Pressley faced an unusual set of circumstances. He thinks most incumbents will be safe.
"I think they tend to be members of Congress in good standing with both the primary electorate and the general electorate in their districts," he said.
Pressley and Rep. Catherine Clark are the only two members of the delegation who show no sign of a challengers — so far.