Diane Patrick to endorse Capuano for Senate seat

Cites his support for husband’s campaign

Patrick said Capuano has the experience. Patrick said Capuano has the experience.
By Matt Viser
Globe Staff / November 21, 2009

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Governor Deval Patrick is remaining neutral in his party’s ongoing four-way primary for US Senate, but neutrality only goes so far in the Patrick home: the governor’s wife, Diane, plans today to endorse US Representative Michael E. Capuano for the Senate seat.

The endorsement is a surprise, given the governor’s professed neutrality, and potentially significant, as Capuano seeks to highlight support from prominent women as a way to gain ground against Attorney General Martha Coakley, the lone female candidate.

Patrick announced her endorsement in a statement issued by the Capuano campaign yesterday afternoon. She attributed her decision to the fact that Capuano and his wife endorsed Deval Patrick early in his 2006 campaign for governor.

“Mike and Barbara offered us tremendous support and friendship throughout the course of Deval’s campaign,’’ Patrick said. “I am very pleased to have the opportunity to reciprocate with my own endorsement now.’’

Several minutes later the governor issued his own statement through his campaign office, reiterating that he remains neutral in the race.

“After 25 years of marriage, I know Diane to be a smart, independent woman who makes her own decisions,’’ the governor said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. Neither would she.’’

“I respect her decision to endorse,’’ he added. “But it is hers alone. Officially and personally, I will remain neutral through the Democratic primary. After that, I will work just as hard as I can to ensure that the Democratic nominee is our next US senator.’’

Last week, the governor told reporters at the State House that he is friends with many of those who are running.

“They’re all very, very worthy candidates,’’ Patrick said. “I’m trying my very best to remain neutral. I don’t think we can lose with any one of them.’’

In recent years, there have been several other instances in which endorsements by the spouses of officeholders have played important roles in campaigns.

Former US Representative Martin Meehan, for example, didn’t endorse anyone in the 2007 special election to succeed him, but his wife, Ellen Murphy Meehan, was the chairwoman of Niki Tsongas’s successful campaign.

Patrick, who is a partner at the law firm Ropes & Gray and first met Capuano during her husband’s campaign, is planning to formally endorse Capuano in Dedham during his 50th “Open Mike’’ event, at which the congressman fields questions from voters.

“Mike has proven leadership on issues important to me, such as improving education and fighting to protect our cherished civil liberties,’’ Diane Patrick said yesterday in her statement.

“Mike’s experience in the House, coupled with his passion to fight for what is best for Massachusetts, makes him the very best candidate to send to the US Senate. I am proud to endorse Mike today.’’

In a statement yesterday, Capuano said, “I am truly honored to have her endorsement of my candidacy for US Senate, and I am very fortunate to call her a friend.’’

A Coakley spokeswoman, Alex Zaroulis, declined to comment on Diane Patrick’s endorsement.

Capuano has received several other key endorsements from prominent women, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Kitty Dukakis, wife of former Massachusetts governor Michael S. Dukakis; and former state representative and lieutenant governor candidate Marjorie Clapprood.

Coakley has been endorsed by politically active women including Senate President Therese Murray, philanthropist Barbara Lee, and more than two dozen female state lawmakers. Coakley has also been endorsed by EMILY’s List, a political group based in Washington that raises money for Democratic women who support abortion rights.

The other Democratic candidates in the race, Stephen G. Pagliuca and Alan Khazei, are political newcomers who have not had many endorsements from Massachusetts political figures. Pagliuca, the co-owner of the Boston Celtics, has received support from several prominent NBA players and Khazei has several endorsements from those in the entertainment business, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City.

The four Democrats will face off in a special primary Dec. 8, and the top vote-getter will advance to a final election Jan. 19, running against the Republican nominee. The winner will assume a seat long held by US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who died in August.

Matt Viser can be reached at