Mike Capuano

Mike Capuano
Mike Capuano
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 8th district
Assumed office
January 3, 1999
Preceded by Joseph Kennedy II
33rd Mayor of Somerville, Massachusetts
In office
January 1, 1990 – January 5, 1999
Preceded by Eugene C. Brune
Succeeded by Dorothy Kelly Gay
Personal details
Born January 9, 1952 (1952-01-09) (age 59)
Somerville, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Barbara Capuano
Children Joseph Capuano
Michael Capuano
Residence Somerville, Massachusetts
Alma mater Dartmouth College, Boston College
Occupation Attorney, politician
Religion Roman Catholic

Michael Everett "Mike" Capuano (born January 9, 1952) is the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts's 8th congressional district, serving since 1999. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district, which was once represented by John F. Kennedy and Tip O'Neill, includes the northern three-fourths of Boston, as well as Somerville (where he lives) and Cambridge. Prior to joining Congress, Capuano served as mayor and alderman of Somerville, Massachusetts.

Capuano was born and raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, to Irish-American and Italian-American parents. After graduating from Dartmouth College and Boston College Law School he worked as an attorney and Somerville alderman. He lost two elections for mayor in 1979 and 1981, at which point 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. While he harbored aspirations to become governor, he instead launched a failed bid to be Secretary of the Commonwealth in 1994.

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 with no Republican opposition. In Congress he is a staunch liberal and member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. His focuses have included international human rights, transportation, and financial services. Capuano ran in the 2010 special election‎ to fill the seat in the United States Senate made vacant by the death of Senator 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, education and career

Michael Everett Capuano was born January 9, 1952, in the Spring Hill neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts, a densely populated city just north of Boston. His mother, Rita Marie Capuano (née Garvey), was a former secretary who grew up in the Boston neighborhoods of Dorchester, Allston, and Brighton. Rita grew up in an Irish American household; her father, Everett Earl Garvey, was the son of Irish immigrants. In 1942, she married Andrew Capuano, the son of Michael Capuano, an Italian immigrant from Candita, Avellino, Campania, Italy . Andrew left to serve in World War II shortly after the marriage. When he returned, he ran for the Somerville Board of Aldermen, and became the first Italian American elected to the board. He served two terms and went on to work for the Massachusetts Department of Corporations and Taxation.[1][2]

Rita and Andrew had seven children, of whom one died in childbirth and another died of polio at the age of 5. Michael and four siblings, Lisa, Pamela, Andrew Jr., and Ruth, grew up in Somerville.[1] Michael was named after his two grandfathers.[2] He attended Somerville High School, and graduated in 1969. In 1973, he received an A.B. degree from Dartmouth College, and in 1977, a law degree from Boston College Law School.[3] He specialized in tax law.

Early political career

In 1976, Capuano was elected to the Somerville Board of Aldermen,[3] representing Ward Five, the seat once held by his father.[citation needed] He served one term, stepping down in 1979 to run for mayor of Somerville.[4] In the 1979 mayoral election he faced Eugene Brune, Paul Haley, and incumbent Thomas August. He lost the nomination to Brune, who defeated August.[5] He ran again in 1981 to challenge Brune, placing second in a three-man runoff election.[6] Capuano promoted his vote against Proposition 2 1/2 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 2 1/2 passed.[7] Capuano lost in the general election with 40 percent of the vote.[8]

Capuano served as chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts General Court's Joint Committee on Taxation from 1978 to 1984.[9] He left the committee in 1984 to join Beacon Hill law firm and lobbying group Joyce & Joyce.[4] In 1985 he returned to the Somerville Board of Aldermen as an at-large member.[9]

He ran for mayor of Somerville a third time in 1989 and won the election.[3] He served as mayor from 1990 to 1999, where he earned a reputation as a hands-on administrator.[10][11] One of his priorities was to lower the city's population density, the highest of any New England municipality, by using state grants to demolish several buildings and replace them with playgrounds and parking spaces.[12] He also oversaw a reduction in class size to 19 students.[10]

Capuano ran for Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth in the 1994 election. Capuano was seen as a conservative-leaning party outsider, running against former state representatives Augusto Grace and William F. Galvin for the Democratic nomination, and struggled to obtain support among party leaders. During the race he framed himself as an advocate for the poor and urban communities. He criticized state aid formulas which, he argued, left poorer municipalities such as Somerville and Boston with less per-capita revenue than wealthier communities such as Cambridge and Brookline. To appear on the Democratic primary ballot required the support of at least 15 percent of delegates in the June state party convention. In what the Boston Globe deemed "an embarrassing defeat", he was pushed out of the race with only 13 percent 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."[12]

Congressional career

The 8th congressional district of Massachusetts, which Capuano has represented since 1999.

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 U.S. Ambassador Raymond Flynn, who had been an early front-runner. Capuano benefited from strong voter turnout in Somerville (against a low district turnout overall) and an effective television campaign, and won the crowded primary with 23 percent of the vote. As the 8th has long been reckoned as the most Democratic district in New England, Capuano's general election victory was a foregone conclusion.[10][11] He has since been reelected unopposed five times, most recently in 2010.[13][14]

Capuano is a member of three congressional committees and three party committees. He has co-founded five congressional caucuses while serving in the House. After the United States general elections, 2006 that created a Democratic majority in the House, he was appointed Chairman of the Speaker's Task Force on Ethics Enforcement by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with whom he has a close relationship. Along with being a member of the House Committee of Transportation and Infrastructure and the House Committee of Financial Services, Capuano also serves on the House Democratic Leadership team as a member of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

Domestic policy

Mike Capuano has supported most major and minor pro-choice bills and opposed bills limiting a woman's right to abortion.[15] He has voted for the Prison Abortion Funding Amendment and the Abortion Funding Amendment, while voting against the Abortion Pain Bill and the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act.[16]

Mike Capuano has also supported animal rights and wildlife management bills. Recent bills he has supported include the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, and the Horse Slaughter Prohibition Bill.[17] He has not supported the Endangered Species Reauthorization Bill, which decreased the power of the Secretary of the Interior in wildlife management decisions.[18]

Mike Capuano also supports the current economic policies, such as the Trade-in Vouchers for Fuel Efficient Cars, Student Aid Program, and the Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and Related Appropriations Fiscal Year 2009-2010 Modifications, a large segment of the yearly budget. Related recent economic bills he supported include the 2009-2010 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Authorizations and the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agency Appropriations Fiscal Year 2009-2010.[19]

Congressman Capuano raised concerns about the health care reform bill's impact on Massachusetts but after working through some of those issues, voted in favor of the legislation.[20]

Committee assignments
112th Congress (2011–2012)
Party leadership and caucus memberships

Finally, Mike Capuano strongly supports labor rights. On labor health issues he has supported the Requiring OSHA to Establish Combustible Dust Safety Standards bill. On labor pay issues he has supported the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation bill, and the Unequal Pay Bill.[21] In February 2011, during a rally at Beacon Hill, Boston in support of the 2011 Wisconsin budget protests, Capuano told the pro-union crowd, "I’m proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an email to get you going. Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary". After receiving criticism for "over-the-top and inflammatory rhetoric", Capuano expressed regret for his choice of words.[22]

Foreign policy

Mike Capuano supports leaving the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through opposing the Funding for Military Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan bill, the Defense Authorizations Bill, and 2008-2009 Supplemental Appropriations.[23] He does however support foreign aid through the Funding to Combat AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis bill, the United States - India Nuclear Agreement, and the China Trade Relations bill.[24]

Capuano is considered to be one of the biggest supporters in Congress for increasing international aid funding. He has become a voice for victims of the crisis in the Sudan and has secured new funding bills aimed at assisting poor African nations.

Issues and interest groups

Mike Capuano has taken the Massachusetts Congressional Election 2008 Political Courage Test, which broadly surveys a wide range of positions on common issues.[25] He has also been given high ratings by a variety of interest groups, such as Planned Parenthood, the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, and Environment America. However, he has been rated poorly from the National Taxpayers Union and the Sportsmen and Animal Owner's Voting Alliance.[26]

Mike Capuano's top contributors are the PMA Group, Forest City Enterprises, Telcomm Insight Group, Citigroup Inc, Feeley and Driscoll, and the Federal Realty Investment Trust.[27] The top sectors which contribute to him include the financial market, lawyers and lobbyists, labor groups, and health groups.[28] The top contributing industries to Mike Capuano include Law Firms, Real Estate, Insurance, and Air Transport.[29]

United States Senate campaign, 2010

On September 8, 2009 Capuano collected nomination papers for a run for the seat formerly held by Senator Edward Kennedy[30] and on September 18, he announced his candidacy. On December 8, 2009, he lost the Democratic primary to Martha Coakley, the Attorney General of Massachusetts. Capuano secured 28% of the vote to Coakley's 47% amongst a field of four candidates.[31]

Personal life

Capuano married Barbara Teebagy, also of Somerville, in 1974.[3] Barbara, also a Somerville High School graduate, received her B.S. from Boston State College in 1974, later earned her MBA from Babson College in 1976, and eventually became a certified public accountant.[citation needed] Michael and Barbara Capuano have two children, Joseph and Michael.[3]

He is also 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.[32]


  1. ^ a b Stickgold, Emma ((July 21, 2010)), Rita Capuano; campaigned with vigor for husband, son; at 90, Boston, MA: The Boston Globe, http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/obituaries/articles/2010/07/21/rita_capuano_campaigned_with_vigor_for_husband_son_at_90/ 
  2. ^ a b The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/elections/2004/candidates/22079/. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Alston, Farnsworth; Carter, Mary Ann; Randolph, Sarah (eds.) (2009). "Michael E. Capuano". Congressional Directory for the 111th Congress (2009–2010). Washington: Government Printing Office. pp. 127–128. ISBN 978-0160837272. http://books.google.com/books?id=9nL2Bhq3UYIC&pg=PA130. 
  4. ^ a b Flint, Anthony (September 17, 1998). "In the long run, persistence wins". The Boston Globe. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/boston/access/34104706.html?FMT=ABS. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  5. ^ http://www.wickedlocal.com/somerville/features/x1013165255/Longtime-Somerville-champion-Haley-dies-at-60
  6. ^ "Somerville". The Boston Globe. October 1, 1981. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/boston/access/684431721.html?FMT=ABS. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  7. ^ Ziegler, Bart (September 27, 1981). "Somerville: Mayor defending his 2 1/2 record against 2 foes". The Boston Globe. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/boston/access/684421561.html?FMT=ABS. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Somerville". The Boston Globe. November 4, 1981. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/boston/access/684494931.html?FMT=ABS. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "Capuano, Michael Everett". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=C001037. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c Goldberg, Carey (September 16, 1998). "Mayor Wins Chance to Take Storied Kennedy House Seat." The New York Times.
  11. ^ a b Ferdinand, Pamela (September 17, 1998). "Massachusetts: Ex-Mayor Ray Flynn's Comeback Fizzles; Competitive Race For Governor Set." The Washington Post.
  12. ^ a b Kenney, Michael (August 7, 1994). "An upbeat Capuano eyeing the future". The Boston Globe. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/boston/access/61997641.html?FMT=ABS. Retrieved October 16, 2010. 
  13. ^ Election results, 2000–2008:
  14. ^ Election results, 2010:
  15. ^ Wedge, Dave "Pols and politics: Mike Capuano's media 'toon-up'" Boston Herald (MA); 11/15/2009
  16. ^ Abortion issues, Project Vote Smart.
  17. ^ Animal Rights and Wildlife Management, Project Vote Smart.
  18. ^ Endangered Species Reauthorization Bill with Mike Capuano's vote, Project Vote Smart.
  19. ^ Economic Policies, Project Vote Smart.
  20. ^ [1], Blue Mass Group My Decision on Health Care
  21. ^ Labor Issues, Project Vote Smart.
  22. ^ http://news.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view/20110223capuano_bloody_comment_becomes_flashpoint_in_union_flap/srvc=home&position=recent
  23. ^ Defense, Project Vote Smart.
  24. ^ Foreign Issues, Project Vote Smart.
  25. ^ Issue Positions, Project Vote Smart.
  26. ^ Issue Group Ratings, Project Vote Smart.
  27. ^ Top Contributors, Center for Responsive Politics.
  28. ^ Top Sectors, Project Vote Smart.
  29. ^ Top Industries, Project Vote Smart.
  30. ^ Mason, Edward; Dwinell, Joe (September 8, 2009). "Capuano takes out papers for Ted K’s Senate seat". Boston Herald. http://bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/view.bg?articleid=1196192&pos=breaking. Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  31. ^ "Local Election Results 2010 - Politics News Story - WCVB Boston". Thebostonchannel.com. http://www.thebostonchannel.com/politics/feature.html. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  32. ^ By Anonymous (2009-11-06). "Capuano to be joined by actor nephew at "Open Mike" Nov. 9 - Somerville, Massachusetts 02144 - Somerville Journal". Wickedlocal.com. http://www.wickedlocal.com/somerville/town_info/government/x1156078852/Capuano-to-be-joined-by-actor-nephew-at-Open-Mike-Nov-9. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Joseph Patrick Kennedy II
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 8th congressional district

January 3, 1999 – present
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Judy Biggert
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Joe Crowley
D-New York

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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