By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Do the expedient thing

I am genuinely puzzled by a statement from U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano’s Senate campaign, reported in the Boston Globe. Capuano’s campaign treasurer, Bruce Percelay, was asked to comment on the fundraising advantage state Attorney General Martha Coakley has built. The Globe’s Matt Viser writes:

“Our hats go off to our competitors who were able to raise that much money,” said Bruce A. Percelay, treasurer for the Capuano campaign. He added that Coakley’s campaign had “a significant jump on us” because she declared earlier, while Capuano “made a conscious decision not to begin any fund-raising until Joe Kennedy made his decision.”

“If it temporarily puts us a little behind the starting line, then it was a small price to pay for doing the right thing,” Percelay said.

Yes, we all know that Capuano waited until Kennedy decided not to run for his uncle’s seat. No news there. What puzzles me is that the Capuano campaign wants everyone to know that.

Does the congressman want us to think he really does believe the Kennedys have a hereditary right to the seat? Does he honestly expect us to think Coakley disrespected the sainted memory of Ted Kennedy by jumping into the race while various and sundry Kennedys were pondering whether to run?

The outpouring of public affection for Ted Kennedy was genuine. In general, though, I think voters would like to see the Kennedys take their place in line like everyone else. You may have noticed that public reaction to Gov. Deval Patrick’s appointment of Kennedy coatholder Paul Kirk as interim senator wasn’t exactly enthusiastic.

Regardless of Coakley’s merits as a potential senator, I think her decision to jump in and not wait for the Kennedys can only help. As for Capuano, I would like to hear him explain directly why he apparently believes that Joe Kennedy would make a better senator than he would.

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  1. lkcape

    I suspect it had more to do with not wanting to buck he Kennedy machine unnecessarily than it has to to with ceding the seat to a Kennedy.

    If he has you discussing the question of Coakley possibly being disrespectful of Saint Edward the Senator, then he may well placed the seed of doubt to grow as a poisonous weed in the field of roses that Coakley tries to sow.

  2. Veritas

    Not to mention the fact that Capuano started with well over 1 m in his account and Martha started with$0- Khazei has major press-BFF with Arianna, E.J. Dionne, Time editor etc.
    They will give him lots of help but what has he done for the people of MA? Issues?

  3. mike_b1

    You give the voters too much credit for knowing Kirk’s background. I’d bet if you took a poll of Mass. voters right now, a strong majority couldn’t tell you who he is. It’s a bigger stretch to think the electorate sees him as a Kennedy extension. As such, Capauno had to point it out.

  4. InsiderNegot

    Capuano’s whole theme is “If you can’t have a Kennedy, you can the next best thing, me”. He is trying to run on the Kennedy coat tails, and it is a flawed theory.

    As proud as the people of Massachusetts were to return the Liberal Lion to the Senate time after time, they will be equally proud to send the first woman from Massachusetts.

    I think the Kennedy family knows he is in trouble with only a tacid endorsement from Steven Smith. It seems to me that if Capuano is going to run as the non-Kennedy Kennedy, he better get the Kennedys out there.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Moreover, I’m not sure how far affection for Ted Kennedy extends to the rest of the family. Joe Kennedy could have won in a crowded field. But if it were, say, Joe K. versus Coakley one-on-one, I wouldn’t have ruled out Coakley.

  5. BillH

    Wasn’t it Capuano who started out with a huge advantage, given that he had a large federal campaign war chest, whereas Coakley’s state campaign money can’t be used in a federal race?

    • Dan Kennedy

      Don’t remember who started out with the most money. But Coakley, to my mind, had a huge advantage in having run statewide before. I don’t think Capuano is well-known outside his congressional district.

  6. Al

    I think Capuano started out with the most money , if for no other reason than the fact that he is the only one of the candidates holding a federal office and thus with a federal campaign account. The big women’s push behind Coakley quickly erased that advantage. Khazei, with his big reporting surprised me. For those of us in the Boston media market, and as political junkies, we are familiar with Capuano. I think we can sometimes forget how unknown Reps, state and federal, are outside of their home districts.

  7. thanks, Mr. Kennedy, for seeing the truth of the matter. AG Coakley is leading because she is the best candidate, with credentials known to the entire state and has the intelligence and ability to present the case for issues before the Senate in a civil and sensible manner. Her record is better than any other candidate in the race. Go Martha, the Senate from MA needs you.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Bette: Let me just be clear that I’m not supporting Coakley or anyone else. I do think she’s going to be awfully tough to beat, but that’s a political observation, not an endorsement.

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