No consensus on Capuano-Pressley showdown
Hard to handicap race in unpredictable climate
YOU MIGHT AS well put a fork in Rep. Michael Capuano, whose long career is about to sunset in the face of a growing left-wing wave. Or is it getting to be desperation time for Ayanna Pressley, who will look to sudden lefty sensation Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to give her underdog campaign a needed jolt of energy?
Both takes appear in columns in today’s Boston Herald, underscoring the uncertainty surrounding the closely watched Democratic primary matchup for Congress that some think may portend the leanings of the electorate nationally.
The former view comes from conservative columnist Michael Graham, who deploys more than one Godfather reference on the way to his conclusion that Capuano’s future as a congressman is “sleeping with the fishes.”
Graham appears to evince some sympathy for Capuano, an older white guy battling it out to survive in the era of multiculturalism run amok. But he seems to be as much snickering at Cap’s desperate lunge to the left, offering faux tears for the injustice of the veteran Somerville pol going “full socialist” only to get “stabbed in the back by your liberal family.” Sorry, Mike, he concludes, “it’s too late.”
He isn’t even overly wowed by yesterday’s endorsement of Pressley by Attorney General Maura Healey, calling it a “smaller boost” in comparison to the big endorsements that Pressley has failed to land.
But the standards aren’t really the same for a veteran incumbent and insurgent challenger. Capuano’s big endorsements — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, former governor Deval Patrick, and others — as welcome as they are to his camp, are more dog-bites-man. Not only do established pols tend to rally around incumbents from their party, Walsh and Patrick both got Capuano’s backing in their runs for mayor and governor.
Healey’s nod to Pressley is a big deal for Pressley’s campaign. While it’s true, as Battenfeld writes, that it may not come with lots of organizational muscle, it could be an important signal to primary voters, many of whom seem truly conflicted about their choice.
Joan Vennochi doesn’t offer a clear handicapping of the race, but argues simply that the Healey endorsement is “another sign that the old-guard white male establishment that has controlled the Democratic power structure since forever is finally starting to crack.”
One humorous wrinkle in the Healey endorsement that has been noted: Rather than framing her backing entirely in lofty language about the need for sweeping change in Washington, Healey let people know it is her turn to return the favor to Pressley, who backed her primary campaign against party favorite Warren Tolman four years ago.“Ayanna stood by me and supported me in my first campaign, at a time very few elected leaders were willing to take a chance on an outsider candidate like me,” Healey tweeted.
Which led WGBH politics writer David Bernstein to remark on how candid liberal-leaning Massachusetts pols are about the “transactional nature” of their endorsements — whether it’s Walsh and Patrick supporting Capuano or Healey now backing Pressley.