No consensus on Capuano-Pressley showdown

 

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 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.”

Joe Battenfeld, meanwhile, still seems to see Pressley as the clear underdog. He points to a recent poll showing the Boston city councilor down by double digits, and says she desperately needs the sort of lift she may get from a campaign swing here on her behalf by Ocasio-Cortez, who upended another 20-year white male veteran Democratic congressman in a primary last month in New York.

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.

In that way, though there may be a generational change of leadership afoot, getting rid of the old-guard doesn’t mean discarding the old-school ways, where one constant remains: You do for me, I’ll do for you.

MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

An energy bill made it out of conference. A Sierra Club official said the bill takes “baby steps” when giant strides are needed to deal with climate change. (State House News)

As the Legislature overrode most of Gov. Charlie Baker’s spending vetoes, CommonWealth took a look at how lawmakers protected nearly $4 million in local earmarks in a budget item for firefighter training.

Lawmakers reject a bid to ban the use of single-use plastic bags. (Associated Press)

The House rejected an attempt by Baker to change welfare eligibility rules, but the timing of the vote, as the legislative session comes to a close, means it’s unlikely the Legislature’s push to lift the so-called family cap on welfare benefits will pass. (MassLive)

New Bedford officials are hopeful an economic development bill will make it through the Legislature including language allowing some mixed-use development on the state pier. (South Coast Today)

Republican lawmakers, joined by mothers of opioid victims, made another pitch to the Legislature to impeach Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley. (Eagle-Tribune) But the Herald reports that the bid led by Rep. Jim Lyons is dead.

A Lowell Sun editorial slams the idea of community benefit districts with the power to assess taxes on residents.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The intercity battle over Long Island Bridge lands at the Quincy Conservation Commission tomorrow, where Boston officials will be seeking one of several permits needed to rebuild the bridge that Quincy officials strongly oppose. (Patriot Ledger)

Haverhill city councilors said they were infuriated but also troubled by the comments of a local prosecutor and judge last week suggesting the city is a “war zone” where violence is “out of control.” (Eagle-Tribune)

Three facilities managers at the Boston Public Library are on unpaid leave pending the outcome of an investigation. Officials won’t say anything about the probe. (Boston Herald)

The four officers of the Blandford Police Department resigned, saying their equipment is so old and unsafe that it’s impossible to do their job. (MassLive)

State Rep. Michelle DuBois, in a Facebook post that has since been deleted, charged The Enterprise with peddling “fake news” by calling a city employee who is the target of a racial discrimination lawsuit a parking control officer — which is his title — because she says it suggested that he was a police officer when he is not. (The Enterprise)

MassDevelopment gave Lynn $25,000 to spruce up storefronts downtown. (Daily Item)

A Berkshire Eagle editorial says the opening of Tourists, a funky remodeled motel in North Adams, continues the renaissance of the struggling municipality.

Can Fall River’s mayor, Jasiel Correia, unilaterally end the city’s pay-as-you-throw trash disposal system by executive order? It’s complicated. (Herald News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Trump administration is mulling a change in the way capital gains are calculated that would cut the taxes of the rich considerably. (New York Times)

Transportation Services Administration officials have scheduled briefings with the four congressional committees that have oversight of agency in the wake of a Boston Globe report on the TSA’s “Quiet Skies” surveillance program. (Boston Globe)

Dry ice for killing rats isn’t dry ice for killing rats until the Environmental Protection Agency says it is. (WGBH)

ELECTIONS

Tom Keane doesn’t like the Democrats’ chances in the midterms because President Trump is delivering on the promises he made and the Dems are alienating the centrist voters they need to win. (WBUR)

EDUCATION

More than a dozen top colleges and universities filed briefs supporting Harvard’s practice of using an applicant’s race as one factor in its admissions process. Harvard is facing a lawsuit challenging its system. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Rhode Island fishermen and Vineyard Wind are at loggerheads over the layout of a wind farm off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. (South Coast Today)

Vineyard Wind named Crista Bank, a UMass field biologist and New Bedford resident, as the company’s liaison to the fishing community. (South Coast Today)

CASINOS

Officials from the Stronach Group met with Lancaster residents to brief them on the company’s desire to build a track for horse racing in the community. The briefing appeared to be very general in nature. (Telegram & Gazette)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe says his office’s prosecutor erred two months ago in not seeking bail for a man charged with drunken driving who led police on a chase late Saturday in which he crashed into a car driven by the father of a newborn girl who was heading home from the hospital. Both the new father, Marine veteran Kevin Quinn, and the fleeing driver, Mickey Rivera, were killed. (Boston Globe) The Yarmouth police chief, whose son was killed fighting in Afghanistan, decries the fact that Quinn survived two tours of battle duty there only to meet his death on the roads of Cape Cod. (Boston Herald)

WGBH’s Jim Braude interviewed US Attorney Andrew Lelling on his stances on immigration (the focus of a CommonWealth piece last week), marijuana, and his boss Jeff Sessions. “The guy is the best Attorney General in 20 years,” he said.

In the wake of several shootings of police officers, the MetroWest Daily News examines the state’s bail system.

MEDIA

New Jersey begins an experiment to fund local journalism. (New York Times)

Newsroom employment dropped 23 percent in the last decade, with the biggest drop coming at newspapers. (Pew Research Center)

A leaked white paper proposes Congressional regulation of social media. (Columbia Journalism Review)

MassLive is hosting an open house at its offices in Worcester.