Ayanna Pressley stumps for Brockton DA candidate. How will that affect the race?

·5 min read

BROCKTON — U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley brought national star power and a full-throated endorsement of Plymouth County district attorney candidate Rahsaan Hall to Brockton Beer Company on Wednesday.

Pressley electrified the packed crowd of Democratic operatives and local activists.

"We still need people who will restore our faith in government and those in positions of power," the two-term Democrat representing the 7th Congressional district said. "I know that we will have that in Rahsaan."

If past elections are a guide, Hall will have a challenge wresting the district attorney's office from 20-year incumbent Timothy J. Cruz, a Republican. Each of the three times Cruz has faced a Democratic challenger, he has seen them off easily.

Hall, a Brockton civil rights lawyer, will be working to repeat Pressley's success in overcoming what he called the "old school political math."

Pressley was polling 13% behind U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano of Somerville — who held the seat for 20 years — in her breakthrough 2018 Democratic primary. Pressley shocked pundits by sweeping to victory by 17%.

"We expanded the electorate because we didn't make any assumptions about who deserved a seat at the table of democracy," said Pressley, who served for eight years on the Boston City Council, becoming the first Black woman elected to that body, before running for Congress. "So what I will say to you is, you cannot poll transformation. Transformation is afoot right now."

Pressley has since that 2009 victory become a major figure in progressive circles as a member of what her supporters and detractors sometimes call "The Squad" of left-wing House members.

Pressley's 7th District does not overlap with Plymouth County. Patrick Nestor, campaign manager for Cruz, contrasted Hall's high-profile yet out-of-district endorsements and Cruz' closer-to-home backers.

"District Attorney Cruz has a long track record of working successfully with public safety officers, elected officials, labor unions and community organizations from every corner of Plymouth County," Nestor said.

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"This is evident in the fact that the majority of our endorsements have come from within the district, including but not limited to the Plymouth County Police Chiefs Association, the Plymouth County Police Officers Association, the Association of County Employees, the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 7, and the Brockton Fire Fighter's People's Committee."

Plymouth County's registered voters are 25% Democrat, 12% Republican and 61% unenrolled, according to the most recent figures posted on the Secretary of State's website. That might sound like good news for Democrats, but only two of the state's 14 counties have a lower percentage of registered Democrats.

Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz addresses the crowd as Brockton celebrates the Day of Portugal at City Hall Plaza on Friday, June 10, 2022. Cruz speaks about his grandfather who moved to Brockton from Portugal and his family name was 'daCruz.'
Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz addresses the crowd as Brockton celebrates the Day of Portugal at City Hall Plaza on Friday, June 10, 2022. Cruz speaks about his grandfather who moved to Brockton from Portugal and his family name was 'daCruz.'

Hall and Cruz would meet in the Nov. 8 general election, assuming both men win their respective primaries. Neither has a primary opponent.

On Wednesday, Pressley worked her way through the crowd in Brockton Beer Company's newly opened taproom. Both Pressley and Hall praised the Black-owned brewery for creating a lively public space.

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Pressley began her speech by quoting scholar and activist Angela Davis: "I'm no longer accepting the things I cannot change. Instead, I'm changing the things I can no longer accept." She said spots like the 121 Main St. taproom have a role to play.

"You do it by having spaces where you can organize," Pressley said, "where you can be unapologetic in joy and in the building of community. Can we give it up for Brockton Beer Company?"

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is at the Brockton Beer Company to campaign for Rahsaan Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. Hall is a Brockton lawyer who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Plymouth County District Attorney. Longtime incumbent Tim Cruz is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is at the Brockton Beer Company to campaign for Rahsaan Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. Hall is a Brockton lawyer who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Plymouth County District Attorney. Longtime incumbent Tim Cruz is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

One of the first ways Pressley made her mark in politics was leading the push for new liquor licenses outside downtown Boston as an economic development measure.

Hall picked up the theme in his remarks.

"If you look at the mirror, it says 'crafted for community,'" said Hall, pointing to the slogan. "This is the community. This is what they have crafted. Creating a space like this to transform what's happening here in Brockton and beyond."

Pressley said a district attorney's office run by Hall would prioritize healing and the rights of survivors of trauma. As an example, she spoke of her father's drug addiction and time in prison as being "incredibly destabilizing to our family."

"What my father deserved was culturally competent, on-demand treatment, and I know that Rahsaan will prioritize restorative responses to those who are in the throes of addiction or those battling mental illness," Pressley said. "These are not things that should be criminalized."

From left, Sharon Baker and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley. Pressley stopped by the Brockton Beer Company to campaign for Rahsaan Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. Hall is a Brockton lawyer who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Plymouth County District Attorney. Longtime incumbent Tim Cruz is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
From left, Sharon Baker and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley. Pressley stopped by the Brockton Beer Company to campaign for Rahsaan Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. Hall is a Brockton lawyer who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Plymouth County District Attorney. Longtime incumbent Tim Cruz is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

Attendees to Wednesday's event, which was also a fundraiser, included Michael Curry, president and CEO of Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and a member of the national board of the NAACP. Local politicians spotted at the event included City Councilor Rita Mendes and independent Fred Fontaine, who are running for the 11th Plymouth House seat; City Councilor Jack Lally, State Rep. Michelle DuBois and, arriving toward the end of the event, State Sen. Michael Brady.

Tim Cruz election history

2018 - Cruz beat Democrat John E. Bradley Jr. 57% to 43%

2014 - Unopposed

2010 - Cruz beat Democrat John F. Shea 67% to 33%

2006 - Unopposed

2002 - Cruz beat Democrat Timothy H. White, 62% to 38%

2001 - Gov. Jane Swift appoints Cruz after President George W. Bush appointed District Attorney Michael J. Sullivan as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts.

Sources: Brockton Enterprise file stories, Massachusetts Secretary of State's Public Document 43

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This article originally appeared on The Enterprise: Brockton: Ayanna Pressley endorses Rahsaan Hall for Plymouth DA