Michael Everett Capuano, born January 9, 1952 is an American politician who currently serves as the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’s 7th congressional district. A Democrat, his district includes the northern three-fourths of Boston, as well as parts of Cambridge, his hometown of Somerville, and other communities immediately north and south of Boston. Prior to being elected to Congress he served as an Alderman and Mayor of Somerville.
Capuano was born and raised in Somerville. After graduating from Dartmouth College and Boston College Law School, he worked as an attorney and Somerville alderman. After losing two mayoral elections in 1979 and 1981, he worked as legal counsel for the Massachusetts General Court. In 1989 Capuano ran for mayor a third time and won, serving from 1990 to 1999.
In 1998 Capuano won a crowded Democratic primary to replace Joseph Kennedy II in Congress and has since been re-elected nine times. He represented the state’s 8th district until it was redrawn in 2013 into the 7th district. In Congress he is a staunch liberal and member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He ran in the 2010 special election to fill the seat in the United States Senate made vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy, his Congressional predecessor’s uncle, but lost the primary to Martha Coakley, who in turn lost the general election to Republican Scott Brown. In 2018, he was defeated by Ayanna Pressley in a House Democratic primary.
Capuano was born January 9, 1952 in the Spring Hill neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts, the son of Rita Marie (née Garvey) and Andrew Capuano. His father left to serve in World War II shortly after getting married, and after returning ran for the Somerville Board of Aldermen, and became the first Italian American elected to the board. His mother was of Irish descent.
Capuano graduated from Somerville High School in 1969, and later attended Dartmouth College, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1973. Capuano later went on to earn his Juris Doctor in 1977 from Boston College Law School, specializing in tax law.
In 1989 Capuano ran for mayor a third time in and won. Capuano served as mayor from 1990 to 1999, where he earned a reputation as a hands-on administrator. One of his priorities was to lower the city’s population density, which at time was the highest of any New England municipality, by using state grants to demolish several buildings and replace them with playgrounds and parking spaces. As mayor, Capuano oversaw the reduction of school class sizes to a maximum of 19 students.
Capuano’s Democratic primary election challenger is Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley for the September 4, 2018 primary election. The Boston Globe reported Capuano would not get the endorsement of either U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey nor would he get the endorsement of Representatives Seth Moulton and Niki Tsongas. Capuano is receiving the support of the majority of the Massachusetts federal delegation, including Representatives William Keating, Katherine Clark, James McGovern, Joseph Kennedy III, Stephen Lynch, and Richard Neal. Capuano was endorsed by Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), an iconic leader of civil rights movement, on March 7, 2018, stating that Capuano is “a champion and fierce advocate for those who have often been forgotten or left behind” and “a leader alongside those of us opposing the unfair and immoral policies of the Trump Administration.”
Capuano considered running for Governor of Massachusetts in 2014. On January 21, 2013, former Mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts and member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council Michael Albano endorsed Capuano to run, posting on his Facebook page: “while the Congressman has not made a decision to compete for the Democratic nomination for Governor at this time, it is not too early to make the case and encourage his candidacy.” When asked in February 2013 whether he might run for governor, Capuano responded: “Part of me thinks that some of the more interesting, more important fights over the next several years might be conducted at statehouses around the country and not necessarily on Capitol Hill.” In a statement in September 2013, Capuano announced he would not run for governor, and would instead focus on running for re-election to Congress.
Capuano was named after his two grandfathers, and has seven siblings, one of whom died in infancy, and another who died of polio at the age of 5. Capuano married Barbara Teebagy in 1974, and together they have two boys, Michael and Joseph. He is 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. In 2003 the City of Somerville dedicated a new school in Capuano’s honor; the Michael E. Capuano Early Childhood Center officially opened in September that year.
Capuano is Roman Catholic. Before Pope Francis became pope and shifted the tone of the Church, Capuano used to fear that his mother would be embarrassed if he was ever denied communion because of his support for gay marriage and abortion rights.