Peter Lucas: Capuano’s Favored, but His Swan Song is in the Background

July 7, 2018

Oh, oh, here she comes

Watch out boy she’ll chew you up

Oh, oh here she comes

She’s a maneater.

I wouldn’t if I were you, I know what she can do

She’s deadly, man, and she could really rip your world apart.

That’s from Hall & Oates’ (Daryl Hall & John Oates) “Maneater.”

It also could be the theme song from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley.

One of them, young Ocasio-Cortez, 28, “chewed up” long time Democrat U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s recent 14th Congressional District Democrat primary, ripping his world apart.

The other, Boston City Councilor Pressley, 44, is seeking to do the same to veteran U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano of Somerville in Massachusetts’ September 4 Democrat primary.

While there are differences between the two fights, and among the four candidates involved, the similarities are striking.

First off, Crowley and Capuano are “old white guys.” Crowley is 56 and Capuano is 66. Crowley served in Congress for 10 terms, or 20 years, and Capuano has served for nine terms, or 18 years. Both represent districts -- Crowley in Queens and the Bronx, and Capuano in Somerville, Cambridge and Boston -- that have become majority minority with large populations of people of color.

Both men are close to the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Crowley is chair of the House Democrat Caucus and was in line to succeed Pelosi.

Capuano is expected to become chair of the House Transportation Committee if the Democrats win control of the House in November.

Both also are liberal Democrats who came up through the ranks, Crowley through the New York Assembly and Capuano as a Somerville alderman and mayor. Both were, and are, in Capuano’s case, supported by the Democrat Party establishment, unlike their opponents.

For instance, even though Pressley is a member of the Boston City Council, Mayor Marty Walsh has endorsed and is supporting Capuano, as is former Gov. Deval Patrick.

Pressley is the first woman of color to be elected to the Boston City Council. She also was Sen. John Kerry’s political director when Kerry held the Senate seat. Before that she worked for former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy II when Kennedy held the Congressional seat that she is now running for.

Despite her Democrat establishment background, she is coming from the far left and has little establishment support.

If nothing else, though, the election of Ocasio-Cortez, whose parents are Puerto Rican, is an important shot in the arm to Pressley. Prior to that stunning upset in New York, Pressley had an uphill challenge in making a case why Capuano, an anti-Trump progressive with a lengthy list of accomplishments, should be ousted.

While Pressley is even to the left of Capuano-calling for the abolition of ICE, for instance, her record compared to Capuano’s is quite meager.

But Ocasio-Cortez had no record at all. She was a former cocktail waitress and a working -class community organizer. She campaigned on Bernie Sanders’ “free stuff” platform.

A former organizer for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, Ocasio-Cortez, is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and was endorsed by MoveOn.org .

She was underestimated and was able to catch Crowley napping. A Washington-oriented Crowley failed to campaign, and he lost. It was an inter-party insurgency, and it worked.

Yet, leftist message aside, there is more to her stunning victory than that. She was a young woman of color who took on an older, entrenched, white Democrat and was able to shove him aside.

In a tweet congratulating Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley said, “This is about more than one campaign or election. This is a movement. Together, we will change the world.”

If not the world, Pressley might have added, at least Capuano’s 7th Congressional District.

Upon her win, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted back, “Vote her in next, Massachusetts. There are more of us, too.”

The political ground under the Democrat Party is shifting. Younger voters and minorities have moved to the far left. They want something different than what the Democrat establishment has given them.

They want Donald Trump impeached and ICE abolished.

Capuano has been around for a long time. He will not be asleep. He can read the signs. He will run on his record, which is a good one.

He will work the district as he has done for years, block, by block, street by street, house by house, voter by voter. He will also be as far left as necessary.

Still, in the background, he might hear a song that Crowley ignored. It goes: Oh, Oh, here she comes...

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