Brianna Wu Loses Massachusetts Congressional Primary Race

The New York Times has picked incumbent Stephen Lynch to win the Democratic primary race for Massachusetts’ Eighth Congressional District and keep his seat, overcoming a challenge by Brianna Wu.

With 31% of the ballots counted as this is written, Lynch has received 71.7%, Wu 21.5%, and a third candidate 5.8% of the vote.

Wu has announced she plans to run again in 2020.

Wu tweeted an analysis of her campaign’s strengths and weaknesses. Thread starts here. Some of her comments follow:

13 thoughts on “Brianna Wu Loses Massachusetts Congressional Primary Race

  1. It could be argued that another of her mistakes was running against a well-established incumbent in a conservative-for-eastern-Massachusetts district. (I’m surprised she polled this high; maybe parts of that district are getting over themselves.) OTOH, there’s honor in not carpetbagging to another district, like the nearby open seat with ten (10) contestants.

  2. She has learned that politics is its own profession, not just like business, and she still has her energy, commitment, and ideas. Good!

  3. @Chip Hitchcock
    I think it is commendable for anyone to run, but going up against a relatively popular incumbent without any significant daylight between most of your positions is pretty much a no win position. I also think she hamstrung herself with her narrative that she’s running because of Trump and now being the reason that even if she just wants to make games she’s being called to serve for the good of the nation. When that’s your narrative and you’re calling on voters to replace a liberal vote in Congress with a kinda more liberal but less experienced vote in Congress in a safe D seat, it is hard to take it seriously. Going after a Republican seat at pretty much any level, that’s a pitch that resonates, but when you’re trying to replace a guy who is already a solid vote against Trump’s agenda, it falls flat.

    Article sounds like her focus on cybersecurity and privacy really registered with the voters. It will be interesting to see what she takes from that and how she adjusts her approach next time.

  4. @DexFarkin–Are you familiar with Massachusetts politics at all? Lynch is about as conservative as a pol can be in Massachusetts, representing one of the most conservative districts. This may look pretty damned liberal to someone in a red state–and yes, we’re proud of that–but her problem was not “calling on voters to replace a liberal vote in Congress with a kinda more liberal” vote “without any significant daylight between most of your positions”.

    She’s running in that district because that’s her district, too. Her main mistake, as she herself notes, is that she didn’t realize soon enough that an insurgent political campaign is not like a startup company, and needs experienced political people involved. As a result, she didn’t get her message out to the voters effectively, even though, once she course corrected, it did start to resonate for the people she did reach.

    I’m delighted she’s planning another run, incorporating what she’s learned from this one.

  5. @Dex: You’ve just given the reasons why Mike Capuano won the Democratic primary last night in my thoroughly liberal district (his campaign flyers were anti-Trump and never mentioned his opponent except obliquely, by talking about experience). The reasons sound plausible, but the conclusion fails:

    Capuano lost. Ayanna Pressley will be my next Congressmember. (The district leans Democratic enough that the Republicans didn’t bother to nominate anyone, though that might have been on the assumption that any candidate they did put up would be running against the incumbent Democrat.)

  6. Capuano lost not because he wasn’t liberal or even progressive enough, but because the demographics of his district had changed to the point where Pressley could be elected. I don’t see Wu ever winning a primary in a district that’s still 75% white and middle-class. Cyber-security isn’t that big an issue for that electorate.

  7. @DexFarkin (expanding on Lis’s comment): Lynch’s base is the part of Boston that was most resistant to busing four decades ago, then extends around the rest of Boston to some of the suburbs that gave us an empty suit to stand in for Ted Kennedy (not that an incompetent/entitled Democratic candidate didn’t help there). I can’t cite specific numbers, but my impression (from many vote counts forwarded by Capuano) is that he’s at least a fellow-traveler with the blue-dog Democrats; there have been a number of issues on which a few dozen Democrats have for whatever reason voted for a Republican measure that to me didn’t pass the smell test, and the breakdowns have shown that chunk occasionally includes Massachusetts representatives (all of whom are Democrats), just not who.

    It looks like Wu made a geek fallacy, thinking that she could campaign part-time and without tools because it was “just politics”. Maybe next time she’ll get more traction; she seems to be taking the right lessons from this one.

    It’s also interesting to note that in the only majority-minority district in MA (almost inside where Wu was running, an experienced solidly-liberal incumbent white male got beaten almost 3:2 by a black woman — who has several terms of Boston council experience behind her, so she didn’t make Wu’s mistakes and was more plausible. Whether Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez will be effective (even if the Democrats take a paper majority, given the abovementioned blue dogs) remains to be seen.

    Meanwhile, the really sickening thing is that over a third of MA Republicans voted for a grotesquely homophobic liar for governor, at least partly on the grounds that he was an ardent Trump supporter where the incumbent has been using an eleven-foot pole.

  8. This is my district. I voted for Brianna, but there were things I was looking for that didn’t happen. I think with a more experienced team, she could do well in the district.

    I don’t think she came to my town. I would have liked to have seen her at a mall or supermarket shaking hands. Perhaps attending town meetings and visiting elderly housing would be helpful as well.

    There was no non-volunteer contact method on her website. Her blog stopped posting anything new in March. I would have liked to have seen a list of “Meet Brianna Wu Here!” events at local libraries and schools.

    Yes, this is a more conservative district. The focus is very much on jobs and schools. Rep. Lynch is kind of hands-off, meaning I haven’t ever seen him actually campaign either, but people are used to him and will stick to the familiar. Her tech-savvy style might have put some people off, but I think it was mostly that they are unfamiliar with her, and didn’t get a chance to see her.

    Hopefully this makes sense.

  9. I hope Wu asks her supporters to vote for the Democrat that did win in her district.

    I appreciate that she was so blunt in her appraisal of what she did right and wrong in her campaign.

  10. Wu lost by 50 points in a primary. She will probably find it “challenging” to obtain the funds for a 2nd run.

  11. @avery:

    Or, looked at another way, she’s a first-time candidate who made a half-assed effort (by her own admission) and got 20% in the primary against an incumbent. Not bad, considering.

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