* Former Democratic Member of Congress
* Former Member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
* Was defeated by Ayanna Pressley in a 2018 Democratic primary
Michael Capuano was born on January 9, 1952 in Somerville, Massachusetts. He earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Dartmouth College in 1973 and a J.D. from Boston College in 1977. Capuano subsequently served as chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts state legislature’s Joint Committee on Taxation from 1978-84, a Somerville alderman from 1985-89, and mayor of Somerville from 1990-98.
In 1998 Capuano, a Democrat, was elected to represent the Eighth Congressional District of Massachusetts—which the Almanac of American Politics described as “by far the [state’s] most Democratic district … and one of the nation’s most reliable” — in the U.S. House of Representatives. He subsequently became a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was reelected every two years until 2018, when he was defeated in a Democratic primary race. (Capuano’s district was renumbered as the Seventh in 2012.)
One of Capuano’s passions as a legislator was the “normalization” of relations between the United States and Cuba. In May 2001, the congressman’s office dispatched employee Michelle Mancini to Havana for seven days to “mee[t] with officials and discus[s] [the] embargo and human rights.” The trip’s $1,923.32 price tag was covered by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation. Twelve years later, Capuano was one of 59 House Members who signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to “support travel to Cuba by granting general licenses for ALL current categories of travel.” (Emphasis in original)
In June 2002 Capuano sent greetings to the Boston Democratic Socialists of America‘s 25th annual dinner, on the occasion of the group’s 24th annual Debs-Thomas-Bernstein awards. Honoring “leaders in the fight for global and local democracy,” these DSA awards are presented in memory of Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas (two national leaders of the Socialist Party) and Julius Bernstein (a local leader in the labor, civil rights, and socialist movements).
Capuano for many years has supported the establishment of a single-payer, government-run healthcare system. In 2005 he co-sponsored “single-payer” bill HR 676, which was introduced into Congress by Rep. John Conyers.
When Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House in 2007, she selected Capuano to lead her transition team.
In 2008, Capuano’s congressional campaign received an endorsement as well as financial support from the JStreet Political Action Committee, which would again back his candidacy in each of his subsequent re-election bids.
In an unsuccessful 2009 run for the U.S. Senate, Capuano’s campaign was endorsed by the Progressive Democrats of America.
When the House of Representatives voted by a 345-75 margin to defund the notoriously corrupt community organization ACORN in September 2009, Capuano was one of the 75—all Democrats—who voted to continue funding the group.
In December 2009, Capuano was one of 33 U.S. Representatives who signed a letter to Hillary Clinton, calling on the Secretary of State to pressure the Israeli government to end its ban on Palestinian student travel from Gaza to the West Bank. “We applaud your efforts to support educational opportunities for Palestinian youth, including your initiative to increase U.S. funding for Palestinian universities and educational programs in Gaza and the West Bank,” added the letter.
On January 27, 2010, Capuano was one of 54 Members of Congress who signed a letter calling on President Barack Obama to use diplomatic pressure to end Israel’s blockade of Gaza—a blockade which had been imposed in order to prevent the importation of weaponry from Iran and Syria.
In February 2011, Capuano exhorted labor-union members in Boston to aggressively resist limits to union benefits like those that were being proposed in Wisconsin, saying: “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.”
In early 2013, Capuano was one of dozens of prominent leftists who urged President Obama to award, posthumously, the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the late Fred Ross Sr., a Saul Alinsky-trained radical who mentored both Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
Capuano’s tenure as a U.S. House Member came to an end after he was defeated by Ayanna Pressley in a 2018 Democratic primary.
For additional information on Capuano, click here.
For an overview of Capuano’s voting record as a House Member, click here.
Further Reading: “Michael Capuano” (Ballotpedia.org, Votesmart.org); “Update on Cuba Travel: We Gathered 59 Signatures” (LAWG.org, 5-3-2013); “This Week in Labor: Movement Grows to De-Privatize Health Care” (People’s World, 12-2-2005); “The 75 Democrats Who Are Pro-Sex Slave ACORN Defenders” (American Thinker, 9-18-2009); “Democrat Urges Unions to ‘Get a Little Bloody When Necessary’” (The Hill, 2-23-2011).