What does Ayanna Pressley know that we don’t?

This being Super Bowl week, pigskin-related analogies are everywhere. In that vein, we’re focused on the special teams warning about outkicking the coverage. That’s where a punter or kicker sends the ball far down the field but at a distance that allows the receiving team to set up a return and thwart defenders.

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who on Tuesday announced her intention to challenge veteran US Rep. Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary for the 7th Congressional district seat, looks like she outkicked her coverage. While a run for the Senate seat being vacated by Linda Dorcena Forry, or even an open congressional seat, would be considered normal progression, Pressley has boomed an 80-yard punt down the field and doesn’t appear to be in position to defend the kick.

And it raises a question many will ask once the shock begins to settle: What does Pressley know that the cognoscenti does not?

On the surface, Pressley’s challenge looks not only quixotic but potentially wrought with self-inflicted wounds. When an unknown Seth Moulton challenged then-US Rep. John Tierney, the Democratic establishment was less-than-pleased someone would soften up an incumbent for a potential fall in the general election, despite Tierney’s embattled family life that was spilling into the public sphere.

But Capuano is not carrying the baggage Tierney was dragging and, in fact, is quite popular not only with the party muckety mucks, but in his district as well. And, unlike the Tierney race, where Richard Tisei was waiting in the wings to pounce, the Pressley-Capuano contest will likely be winner-take-all in the seat once held by “Tip” O’Neill and which gave Hillary Clinton 80 percent of the vote in 2016.

Politico’s Lauren Dezenski got a look at Pressley’s internal numbers and they  were encouraging enough to push the five-term councilor to run. First and foremost is the fact the district is the state’s only minority-majority district, where 56 percent of the voters are non-white.

Dezenski also reports that while Capuano has a “’significant lead over a generic Democrat,” the gap drops to 7 points as people learn more about Pressley, the first woman of color elected to the City Council. The internal numbers also show Pressley with an 11 percent unfavorable rate.

But what the Pressley folks didn’t show Dezenski, apparently, are the other numbers. While 11 percent is a number to dream about, it means little without knowing how many people “don’t know” who Pressley is. And while the gap shrinks as people learn more about Pressley, you have to believe those same voters being polled are not given much information about Capuano.

Pressley is challenging someone who is as progressive on issues as she is and who has been considered an ally of minorities throughout his tenure. It’s tough to see how replacing a veteran lawmaker with seniority helps her cause. In the House, seniority matters. As does the more than three-quarters of a million dollars that Capuano starts with in his campaign account.

The logistics of voting are not conducive to a Pressley victory, either. The primary this year is being held on Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day. Few expect a robust turnout that day and studies indicate low voter turnout favors incumbents. While Pressley’s camp pushes the numbers showing her visibility rises as people know more about her, incumbents also rise or fall in what observers call “high information” elections, according to a 2009 Princeton study. And Capuano, as vocal an opponent of President Trump as there is in the state, gets the benefit of the doubt from progressive voters in Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, and Chelsea.

Pressley’s resume and mentoring is impressive, including her stints on the staffs of former US Sen. John Kerry and former US Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, the father of the current 3rd Congressional District representative. But it’s unlikely any party elder will tip the scales in her favor over a longtime party stalwart.

For Pressley, it is, at least electorally, a low-risk proposition coming as it does in an off-year election for the city. And while it will help raise her profile for future runs should she lose, it will make state party officials wonder just what her reasoning is.

Many party officials often say robust challenges are good for the soul, the voters, and the democratic process. But few mean it. But it does raise the most important of questions: What does Pressley know that we don’t?

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

The mother of Odin Lloyd, the man murdered by former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, testified before a legislative committee on a bill that would prevent convictions on appeal from being overturned when the defendant commits suicide while awaiting a decision, like Hernandez did. (State House News Service)

A Baker administration bill would allow local police to hold immigrants at the request of federal ICE officials. (Boston Globe)

Two key Beacon Hill lawmakers aren’t happy with the way Eversource and state regulators have implemented a new fee on homeowners with solar installations. (CommonWealth)

Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget for fiscal 2019 includes $7.59 million for the Cannabis Control Commission. (MassLive)

Paul Hattis of Tufts University School of Medicine offers four thoughts for the Group Insurance Commission. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

GE may have scrapped its plans to try to site a helipad in the Seaport district, but now Suffolk Construction says it wants one at its Roxbury headquarters, an idea that came as news to area residents and elected officials. A hearing is scheduled for March. (Boston Herald)

Springfield residents say crime incidents have declined 45 percent over the last five years. (MassLive)

Residents near the commuter rail yard in Middleboro have asked selectmen to find a way to put a stop to train engines left idling, sometimes for days at a time, because the emissions pose a health risk. (The Enterprise)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump stays on the message of his teleprompter by offering a message of unity in his State of the Union address. (Boston Globe) In so doing, writes the Globe’s Matt Viser, he offered “a stylistic image of his presidency that is starkly different from the reality of his first year in office.” US Rep. Joe Kennedy, offering the Democratic Party response from Fall River’s vocational technical high school, delivers a not-so-veiled punch to Trump, declaring that across all of American history bullies have never prevailed over “strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future.” (Boston Globe) Speaking stylistic impressions, Joe Battenfeld says it wasn’t a close call. “President Trump looked presidential,” he writes. “Joe Kennedy looked like he was running for student council.” (Boston Herald)

ELECTIONS

A paid leave question on the ballot this year would cost $1 billion to implement, according to Associated Industries of Massachusetts. (State House News)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Jeff Jacoby pans Trump’s latest protectionist move, which he says will do little other than protect Americans from cheap washing machines. (Boston Globe)

A developer hopes to turn the former Boston Globe site in Dorchester into an innovation center with shared office space, a pub, and fitness center. (Boston Herald)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A Globe editorial applauds the inroads states are making against anti-vaxxers, whose efforts are being exposed as particularly dangerous, the paper says, during the current flu season, which has already claimed 37 children’s lives since October 1.

Cambridge-based Aegerion Pharmaceuticals was ordered by a federal judge to pay $7.2 million in restitution to potential victims after company broadly marketed a costly cholesterol-lowering drug even though it had been approved exclusively for use among a small population with a rare, genetic disease. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Overcrowding on the MBTA is getting worse on some transit and bus lines as new development butts up against a creaky transportation system. (Boston Globe)

Milton will reduce the speed limit on side streets and in business districts to 25 mph. (Patriot Ledger)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Supreme Judicial Court granted a motion by the Conservation Law Foundation to hold off on hearing an appeal of the permit granting expansion of a power plant on the Cape Cod Canal in Sandwich until two lower court cases are decided. (Cape Cod Times)

Middleboro officials have banned the use of contaminated soil trucked into town and used as fill citing fears of it leaching into well water. (The Enterprise)

The Coast Guard has identified a 95-foot towing vessel based in Boston and owned by a Winthrop company as the source of an oil spill in Great Harbor in Woods Hole that left a heavy sheen on the surface and is believed to have caused the deaths of a number of seabirds. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

North Andover town meeting rejects commercial pot establishments, including a massive growing facility proposed at a former Lucent plant. (Eagle-Tribune)

Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael, a member of the state’s Cannabis Advisory Board who opposed legalizing marijuana, said a bill by state Rep. David Rogers to make Massachusetts a “sanctuary state” for pot is unnecessary because local police won’t enforce federal laws against those complying with state law. (Greater Boston)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Essex County sheriff’s office has spent nearly $2 million over the last 4.5 years guarding an inmate at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain who is in a locked room on a fully staffed locked ward and is medically unable to stand trial. (Eagle-Tribune)

The Supreme Judicial Court will consider whether, because of misconduct by two former assistant district attorneys, even more cases should be dismissed than the 6,500 already tossed in connection with the misconduct by former state lab chemist Sonja Farak. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

Gov. Charlie Baker’s Latino Advisory Commission bars reporters from its listening session in Holyoke. (MassLive)

A former city council candidate’s $50 million libel suit against the Berkshire Eagle was tossed from court. (Berkshire Eagle)

The Charleston Gazette-Mail, which won a Pulitzer Prize last year, files for bankruptcy protection. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

The line between for-profit and nonprofit journalism for money appeals is beginning to blur and could be a threat to the not-for-profit outlets. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)