Ladies' man

In his race for US Senate, Michael Capuano is using well-known women to battle the race's female front-runner.
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  November 18, 2009

Early last week, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government announced suddenly that Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, would speak at a forum that Friday afternoon. Odd, for such a prominent figure to add an unscheduled event to her schedule, taking her away from Washington during the busy last weeks of the year's legislative session.

But things seldom happen by chance — not when there's an important election race going on. The Kennedy School forum was, in fact, just an excuse to bring Pelosi to Massachusetts during the Senate campaign of her trusted lieutenant, Congressman Michael Capuano (as those involved with his campaign admit). Pelosi was going to endorse Capuano anyway, but it brought the Capuano campaign a lot more attention in the form of a press conference in the Omni Parker House than it would have as just another Beltway announcement.

The congressman's campaign insiders also acknowledge that the gender of that prominent pol flying in for a news-grabbing endorsement was not happenstance, either.

The Capuano campaign is making a determined effort to convince female voters that, in the Democratic primary, they needn't feel obligated to vote for Attorney General Martha Coakley — who would be the first female US Senator ever elected in Massachusetts. The Pelosi endorsement was, in part, a message to those women that, if such a high-profile female is supporting one of Coakley's opponents, so can you.

Pelosi was hardly the first example, and won't be the last. Earlier last week, Capuano held a large rally at the Copley Park Plaza, which featured a surprise (read: attempt to generate news coverage) endorsement by Kitty Dukakis, the former first lady of the commonwealth.

And when the campaign needs to provide a surrogate for the candidate, it invariably sends a woman: at times, it's been talk-show host (and former state representative) Marjorie Clapprood, and recently, defending Capuano on NECN's Broadside, it was former state senator Lois Pines.

All of this is quite deliberate — one advisor to the campaign even says that it was no coincidence that Pelosi's press conference was held in a room named for a woman (Louisa May Alcott).

But Capuano is stopping well short of making the gender play explicit. Neither Pelosi nor Dukakis mentioned gender in their endorsements, and the campaign has decided not to hold a "women for Capuano" group-endorsement event.

He will, instead, put women out front and hope that their gender speaks for itself. So expect to see plenty of Capuano endorsers, such as state representatives Marie St. Fleur and Kathi-Anne Reinstein, and State Senator Gale Candaras, at campaign events and on TV. Just call him LL Cool Mike.

Follow the money
When it comes to the national news cycle, the four Democratic candidates are often at the whims of another female figure: Lady Luck. If the media is suddenly focused on, say, Afghanistan — as it was last week, after President Barack Obama delayed his plans to send more troops to that Central Asian nation — the candidates have to be ready for it.

Or, at least be prepared to spend a lot of money to change the topic.

1  |  2  |  3  |   next >
Related: Does Scott Brown’s victory mean doom for RI Democrats?, Tea-bagger Brown triumphs, Giant shadow, More more >
  Topics: Talking Politics , Barack Obama, Martha Coakley, Christopher Dodd,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   MRS. WARREN GOES TO WASHINGTON  |  March 21, 2013
    Elizabeth Warren was the only senator on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, aside from the chair and ranking minority, to show up at last Thursday's hearing on indexing the minimum wage to inflation.
  •   MARCH MADNESS  |  March 12, 2013
    It's no surprise that the coming weekend's Saint Patrick's Day celebrations have become politically charged, given the extraordinary convergence of electoral events visiting South Boston.
  •   LABOR'S LOVE LOST  |  March 08, 2013
    Steve Lynch is winning back much of the union support that left him in 2009.
  •   AFTER MARKEY, GET SET, GO  |  February 20, 2013
    It's a matter of political decorum: when an officeholder is running for higher office, you wait until the election has been won before publicly coveting the resulting vacancy.
    It wasn't just that Scott Brown announced he was not running in the special US Senate election — it was that it quickly became evident that he was not handing the job off to another Republican.

 See all articles by: DAVID S. BERNSTEIN