Maura Healey is backing Ayanna Pressley in her bid to unseat Mike Capuano

"For me, this isn’t political, it’s personal."

Boston  MA  4/3/18   Councilor Ayanna Pressley speaking at a forum in the Greene Theater at Emerson College.   (photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff)
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Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley speaking at an April forum in the Greene Theater at Emerson College. –Matthew J. Lee / The Boston Globe

Maura Healey is returning the favor.

The Massachusetts attorney general announced Monday that she is endorsing Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s primary campaign against longtime Rep. Mike Capuano in the state’s 7th Congressional District.

“For me, this isn’t political, it’s personal,” Healey, who lives Charlestown, said in a statement.

In a letter to supporters, Healey noted that it was Pressley who “stood by me and supported me” during her first campaign as an “outsider candidate” for attorney general in 2014 against former state lawmaker Warren Tolman. Healey said she and the 44-year-old city councilor have worked together on issues including fighting discrimination by Boston nightclubs; protecting students from “predatory, for-profit schools”; and helping survivors of sexual trauma, domestic violence, and human trafficking.

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“Long before I ever thought of running for office, Ayanna and I worked together on issues that strike at the core of who we are as a city and a state and reflect the progress we still need to make,” the Democratic attorney general said in the statement posted on social media Monday morning.

“I’ve been lucky to work with some incredible people, but just a few have been willing to lean in every time,” she said. “One of these people for me is Ayanna.”

Healey is perhaps the most prominent political figure (at least from within Massachusetts) to publicly back Pressley’s bid to unseat Capuano, who has represented the district since 1999.

While Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey have both pointedly declined to endorse a candidate in the race, the 66-year-old former Somerville mayor has received the support from most of his colleagues in the state’s all-Democrat congressional delegation, as well as from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and former Gov. Deval Patrick.

A recent Emerson College poll showed Capuano leading Pressley by 9 percentage points; a WBUR poll in February showed him with a 12-point lead.

The two candidates do not differ much on policy, and Capuano has emphasized his progressive record in Congress. However, Pressley, who would become the first black female U.S. representative from Massachusetts, says she would be a better voice for the 7th District — which is the only one in the state where the majority of residents are not white.

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In a statement Monday, Pressley said she was “deeply honored” to receive Healey’s support.

“Throughout this campaign, I have been working to spread our message about the importance of activist leadership in Washington that will work in partnership to address the serious challenges faced by communities across the 7th District, which has become one of the most diverse, but also one of the most unequal districts anywhere in the country,” she said. “I am humbled by Maura’s support, and I look forward to working with her and others to lift up the voices of those too often overlooked and ensure that those closest to the pain are closest to the power – driving and informing the policymaking.”

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