ENG: Michael Everett "Mike" Capuano (born January 9, 1952) is an American politician who serves as the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts's 7th congressional district. He is a member of the Democratic Party and his district includes north Boston, as well as Somerville and Cambridge. Prior to being elected to Congress he served as an Alderman and later Mayor of Somerville.
He was born and raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, and after graduating from Dartmouth College and Boston College Law School, he worked as an attorney and Somerville alderman. After losing two elections for Mayor in 1979 and 1981, he went to work as legal counsel for the Massachusetts General Court. He ran for a Mayor a third time in 1989 and won, serving from 1990 to 1999.
He navigated a crowded Democratic primary to replace Joseph Kennedy II as U.S.
Representative from Massachusetts in 1998; he won the election and has since been re-elected six times. In Congress he is a staunch liberal and member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He ran in the 2010 special election to fill the seat in the United States Senate made vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy, his predecessor's uncle, but lost the Democratic primary to Martha Coakley, who in turn lost the general election to Republican Scott Brown.
Early life and education
Capuano was born January 9, 1952 in the Spring Hill neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts to Rita Marie (née Garvey) and Andrew Capuano. His father left to serve in World War II shortly getting married, and after returning ran for the Somerville Board of Aldermen, and became the first Italian American elected to the board.
Capuano graduated from Somerville High School in 1969, and later attended Dartmouth College, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1973. Capuano later went on to earn his Juris Doctor in 1977 from Boston College Law School, specializing in tax law.
Early political career - Somerville politics
In 1976, Capuano was elected to the Somerville Board of Aldermen representing Ward 5, the seat once held by his father.
Capuano served only one term, stepping down in 1979 to run for Mayor of Somerville. In the 1979 mayoral election he faced Eugene Brune, Paul Haley, and incumbent, Thomas August. He lost the nomination to Brune, who defeated August. Capuano ran again in 1981 to challenge Brune, placing second in a three-person runoff election. Capuano promoted his opposition to Proposition 2½ and criticized Brune for expanding the mayoral staff in the face of tight city budgets, while Brune touted his prevention of service cuts after Proposition 2½ passed. Capuano lost in the general election with 40% of the vote.
From 1978 to 1984 Capuano served as chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts General Court's Joint Committee on Taxation. Capuano left the committee in 1984 to join the Beacon Hill law firm and lobbying group Joyce & Joyce. In 1985 he returned to the Somerville Board of Aldermen as an at-large member.
Capuano ran for Mayor a third time in 1989 and won the election. He served as Mayor from 1990 to 1999, where he earned a reputation as a hands-on administrator. One of his priorities was to lower the city's population density, which at time was the highest of any New England municipality, by using state grants to demolish several buildings and replace them with playgrounds and parking spaces.
He also oversaw a reduction in school class sizes to 19 students.
Seeking higher office
Capuano ran for Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth in the 1994 election, running against former State Representatives Augusto Grace and William F. Galvin for the Democratic nomination. During the race he framed himself as an advocate for the poor and urban communities, and criticized aid formulas which he argued left less-wealthy municipalities with less per-capita revenue. To appear on the Democratic primary required the support of at least 15% of delegates in the state party convention. In what the Boston Globe deemed "an embarrassing defeat," he was disqualified from the race with only 13% of delegate votes.
When asked why he staged the difficult race to begin with, he responded, "Because I wasn't ready to run for Governor."
U.S. House of Representatives - Elections
Capuano was elected to Congress in 1998, succeeding fellow Democrat Joseph Kennedy II. In the Democratic primary, he faced nine opponents, including former Boston Mayor and US Vatican Ambassador Raymond Flynn, who had been an early front-runner. Capuano benefited from strong voter turnout in Somerville and an effective television campaign. Capuano won the crowded primary with 23% and easily won the general election. Capuano has consistently been re-elected by high margins, usually facing no Republican opponent, with his lowest amount won being 81% in his inaugural election.
Capuano has helped found five congressional caucuses on Community Health Centers; Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities; Sudan; and Korea; as well as a Former Mayors Caucus. After the 2006 election that created a Democratic majority in the House, he was appointed Chairman of the Speaker's Task Force on Ethics Enforcement by Nancy Pelosi, with whom he has a close relationship.
2010 Senate campaign
After the death of incumbent Senator Ted Kennedy, a special election to succeed him was scheduled. On September 8, 2009, Capuano collected nomination papers to run for the seat and on September 18, he announced his candidacy. Capuano ran as a "Washington insider," comparing himself to Kennedy saying: "was [Kennedy] not the ultimate insider ... I think that’s probably one of the best things that we share.” In his campaign Capuano received several high-profile endorsements, including House Speaker Pelosi and former Massachusetts Governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, Michael Dukakis.
Consistently polling below incumbent Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, on December 8, 2009 Capuano lost the Democratic primary to Coakley, winning only 28% of the vote to Coakley's 47%, amongst a field of four candidates.
Capuano was named after his two grandfathers, and has seven siblings, one of whom died in childbirth and another died of polio at the age of 5. Capuano married Barbara Teebagy in 1974, and together they have two boys, Michael and Joseph. He is the uncle of actors Chris Evans of the Fantastic Four and Captain America film series, and Scott Evans of the soap opera One Life to Live.
February 12, 2013