Rep. Ayanna Pressley endorsed fellow Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president on Wednesday, splitting from her progressive freshman allies. That group, known as the “Squad” and led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, recently backed Warren’s 2020 primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
In an email, Pressley announced the decision and plans to join Warren on the campaign trail in North Carolina on Thursday.
“Elizabeth has made it her life’s work to pursue justice for working families and put economic and political power in the hands of people. We find ourselves in a fight for the soul of our nation, and I know Elizabeth can win it,” Pressley said in her statement.
Warren welcomed the decision in a tweet: “Thank you, @AyannaPressley! I’m proud to be fighting alongside you to put power in the hands of the people.”
The endorsement from her fellow Bay State lawmaker is a coup for Warren, who also received the backing of California Rep. Katie Porter, her former Harvard Law School student, late last month. Over the past few weeks, Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib – Pressley’s fellow “Squad” members – have all broken for Sanders. In backing Warren, Pressley went a different direction, underscoring the divide among progressive leaders heading into next year’s primaries.
Still, there is little reason to believe it signals anything more fundamental or irreparable. Ocasio-Cortez even tweeted a heart emoji to Pressley in response to her announcement.
In a video that accompanied her announcement, Pressley praised Warren, who has been seeking to make inroads with voters of color, for focusing her policies on their concerns.
“You’ve all heard about the Senator’s plans,” Pressley says, “but here’s the thing, the plans are about power – who has it, who refuses to let it go, and who deserves more of it.”
The first-term House member from Boston also joins Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, both of whom backed Warren early on in the campaign. Kennedy is now challenging Markey, who has Warren’s support, in the 2020 Senate primary.
Pressley campaigned alongside Warren in Georgia last year for Stacey Abrams, ahead of the state’s 2018 gubernatorial race. Abrams fell short in her contest with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, but emerged as a national Democratic star. Abrams has not yet endorsed a candidate in the 2020 presidential primary.