Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 1998, 8th term.

Born: January 9, 1952, Somerville

Home: Somerville

Education: Dartmouth Col., B.A. 1973, Boston Col., J.D. 1977

Professional Career: Chief legal cnsl., MA Legislature Taxation Cmte., 1978-84; Practicing atty., 1984-90.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Catholic

Family: married (Barbara) , 2 children

Blunt-talking liberal Michael Capuano won a 10-candidate brawl in the 1998 Democratic primary and has been safe ever since. He is a loyal soldier for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi but has been anxious to move up to the Senate.

Capuano (cap-yu-AH-no) was born and raised in Somerville. His paternal grandfather emigrated from Italy, and his father was the first Italian-American elected official in Somerville. His mother is the granddaughter of Irish immigrants. Capuano graduated from Dartmouth and Boston College Law School. He returned to Somerville to raise his family, practice law, and enter politics. By day, he worked for the legislature’s Joint Committee on Taxation and practiced law. In off-hours, he served as alderman of the 5th Ward, as his father had. He then won election five times as Somerville mayor. For decades an Irish and Italian town, Somerville now has many graduate students and young couples. Capuano seems to have been the right politician for this mix, with deep Somerville roots and a penchant for innovation and reform.

He had a solid base of support to run for the 8th District seat when Joe Kennedy declined to seek reelection. In a 10-candidate field, Capuano led with 23%, with former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn (1983-93) the runner-up at 17%.

In the House, Capuano is among the most liberal Democrats. He harshly criticized the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq and also questioned President Barack Obama’s decision in 2011 to order air strikes against Libya without congressional approval. On the Financial Services Committee, he worked closely with Massachusetts neighbor Barney Frank, proposing in 2012 to merge the Securities and Exchange Commission with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to try to prevent financial disasters like the $1.2 billion loss at derivatives broker MF Global. Capuano unsuccessfully sought in February 2011 to amend a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill to require greater disclosure of a passenger’s baggage fees when a fare is quoted.

Capuano is close to Pelosi, who grew up in Baltimore as the daughter of a congressman and shares with Capuano an urban, ethnic political background. After Democrats won the majority in 2006, Pelosi put Capuano in charge of the transition. Tasked with helping to revise party caucus rules and ethics guidelines, Capuano emphasized inclusion and reform. In March 2008, the House passed his chief proposal,creating an Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent board that for the first time allowed non-lawmakers to review possible ethics violations by House members. He chaired an internal task force that studied the office in 2012. Capuano also chaired the House Administration Committee’s Capitol Security Subcommittee, in charge of the Capitol Police force and other internal operations of Congress, and the Commission on Mailing Standards, which supervises franked mail, another sensitive insider task that requires the trust of House leaders. Republicans groused about possible free speech violations in a Capuano proposal to require House approval of members’ postings on outside websites, but he responded that the criticism was “laughably inaccurate.”

Despite his close proximity to the Democratic leadership, Capuano has a penchant for pugnacious commentary. The Boston Herald observed in an August 2012 editorial that Capuano “has this unorthodox (for a politician) habit of telling the unvarnished truth.” His tongue got him into trouble in February 2011, when he addressed a Boston group protesting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union policies. “Every once in a while, you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary,” Capuano said. He later said his choice of words was inappropriate. Two years earlier, he told the corporate titans of eight banks that took a government bailout, “All or most of you engaged in all or some of the activities that created this crisis. You come here today on your bicycles after buying Girl Scout cookies and helping out Mother Teresa. You’re saying, ‘We’re sorry. We didn’t mean it. We won’t do it again. Trust us.’ America doesn’t trust you anymore.”

In September 2010, before his party was swamped in the election that year, Capuano complained openly about President Barack Obama and his top advisers to The Daily Beast website: “They’re too disconnected from the grass roots and members of the House close to the grass roots,” he said. After Democrats lost their House majority in the election, despite his alliance with Pelosi, he said that the entire leadership team should step down, and told Politico, “If the Red Sox came in and lost every game of the year and they kept the manager at the end of the year, that’s a problem. That’s what we seem to be on the verge of doing.” But he nonetheless supported Pelosi for minority leader when she announced she would seek the post.

After the 2009 death of Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, Capuano entered the special election race to fill the remainder of his term. Pelosi endorsed him and came to his defense when Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, the state attorney general, criticized his vote in 2009 for the health care overhaul that included an amendment banning coverage for abortions in insurance plans receiving federal funds. He emphasized his vote against the USA PATRIOT Act and its provision authorizing roving wiretaps. But Coakley had superior name recognition and won the December 8 primary 47%-28%. Coakley went on to lose the general election to Republican Scott Brown.

Capuano considered running against Brown in 2012, but deferred to national progressive folk hero Elizabeth Warren and even became an enthusiastic surrogate for Warren in her successful race against Brown. After the election, when Obama named Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry as his secretary of State, Capuano considered running for Kerry’s seat but again deferred, this time to fellow Democratic Reps. Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5111

(202) 225-9322

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1414
Washington, DC 20515-2107

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5111

(202) 225-9322

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1414
Washington, DC 20515-2107

DISTRICT OFFICE

(617) 621-6208

(617) 621-8628

110 First Street
Cambridge, MA 02141-2109

DISTRICT OFFICE

(617) 621-6208

(617) 621-8628

110 First Street
Cambridge, MA 02141-2109

DISTRICT OFFICE

(617) 621-6208

(617) 621-8628

Roxbury Community College Room 211
Roxbury, MA 02120-3400

DISTRICT OFFICE

(617) 621-6208

(617) 621-8628

Roxbury Community College Room 211
Roxbury, MA 02120-3400

DISTRICT OFFICE

6 South Main Street Room 124
Randolph, MA 02368-4847

DISTRICT OFFICE

6 South Main Street Room 124
Randolph, MA 02368-4847

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

172 Central Street
Somerville, MA 02145

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Eliza Ramirez
Legislative Aide

Acquisitions

Robert Primus
Chief of Staff

Aerospace

Samuel Rodarte
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Steven Carlson
Legislative Director

Appropriations

Robert Primus
Chief of Staff

Steven Carlson
Legislative Director

Banking

Gira Bose
Legislative Counsel

gira.bose@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5111

Budget

Robert Primus
Chief of Staff

Samuel Rodarte
Legislative Assistant

Campaign

Gira Bose
Legislative Counsel

gira.bose@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5111

Crime

Steven Carlson
Legislative Director

Disability

Robert Primus
Chief of Staff

Education

Samuel Rodarte
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Steven Carlson
Legislative Director

Environment

Steven Carlson
Legislative Director

Finance

Gira Bose
Legislative Counsel

gira.bose@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5111

Gun Issues

Steven Carlson
Legislative Director

Health

Robert Primus
Chief of Staff

Homeland Security

Steven Carlson
Legislative Director

Housing

Gira Bose
Legislative Counsel

gira.bose@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5111

Human Rights

Samuel Rodarte
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Samuel Rodarte
Legislative Assistant

Kate Auspitz
Issues Director

Jose Vaquerano
Caseworker

Insurance

Gira Bose
Legislative Counsel

gira.bose@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5111

Intelligence

Robert Primus
Chief of Staff

Judiciary

Robert Primus
Chief of Staff

Steven Carlson
Legislative Director

Labor

Steven Carlson
Legislative Director

Medicare

Robert Primus
Chief of Staff

Military

Robert Primus
Chief of Staff

Public Works

Steven Carlson
Legislative Director

Seniors

Robert Primus
Chief of Staff

Social Security

Jose Vaquerano
Caseworker

Tax

Samuel Rodarte
Legislative Assistant

Technology

Samuel Rodarte
Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Eliza Ramirez
Legislative Aide

Transportation

Steven Carlson
Legislative Director

Welfare

Samuel Rodarte
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Michael Capuano
Votes: 210,794
Percent: 83.65%
Karla Romero
Votes: 41,199
Percent: 16.35%
2012 PRIMARY
Michael Capuano
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Michael Capuano
Votes: 134,974
Percent: 98.05%
2010 PRIMARY
Michael Capuano
Unopposed
2008 GENERAL
Michael Capuano
Votes: 185,530
Percent: 98.55%
2008 PRIMARY
Michael Capuano
Votes: 35,189
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (98%), 2008 (99%), 2006 (91%), 2004 (100%), 2002 (100%), 2000 (100%), 1998 (82%)

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