U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano will seek a ninth term in the U.S. House and will not run for governor in 2014, opting against entering a competitive primary that would have pitted him against Attorney General Martha Coakley, who defeated Capuano in the 2009 Democratic Senate primary.
The 61-year-old former Somerville mayor had been mulling a campaign for months and issued a statement Thursday announcing his decision not to try to succeed Gov. Deval Patrick and to instead try to keep his seat in the House, which is currently controlled by Republicans. (More coverage: Political Intelligence blog.)
"After taking time to reflect with my family, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2014. I am truly touched by the support and encouragement I received throughout this process, but believe that I can best serve the Commonwealth in Congress. I will continue to be a strong voice for progressive policies in Washington,” Capuano said in a statement.
Capuano said in June that he was weighing both family considerations and the reality that he would need to give up the seat in Congress he has held for nearly 16 years since he succeeded Joseph Kennedy in 1999.
“I see a path politically. But I think the bigger question is whether I want to do this to myself, my family and my supporters. If I do something, I do it 150 percent," he told the News Service in late June. "I would have to give up this seat and a fair amount of seniority for the Commonwealth. I know I'm not irreplaceable, but I think I do a pretty good job down here.”
He represents Seventh Congressional District, which includes Somerville, Chelsea, Everett, Milton, Randolph and parts of Boston.
A Public Policy Polling survey taken last weekend and released Tuesday included Capuano among the Democratic field of gubernatorial contenders. The poll found Capuano to be the strongest competitor against Attorney General Martha Coakley for the party nomination, though he still trailed her 41 percent to 21 percent.
Capuano also held a 42-37 lead over Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker in a hypothetical matchup.
Though Capuano has been reluctant to risk his Congressional seat for an uncertain statewide campaign, he ran in the 2010 special election for U.S. Senate following the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy. He finished second in the December 2009 primary to Coakley, 47-28, and then was uncontested as he won reelection to the House that fall.
While still mayor of Somerville, Capuano waged a short-lived campaign for secretary of state in 1994, but was edged off the Democratic primary ballot when he failed to secure enough support at the party convention.
Secretary of State William Galvin went on to win that campaign, and when asked by the Boston Globe after the convention why he decided to run for secretary of state, Capuano said, “Because I wasn’t ready to run for governor.”
Neither Capuano, nor Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone have made much effort to build support for a statewide race in their staunchly Democratic hometown, according to Jack Connolly, a longtime member of the Board of Aldermen.
“They would have had the luxury of a lot of local support, but timing is everything,” said Connolly, likening the primary contest to a road race.
Curtatone told the News Service this week that he has talked to people "around the Commonwealth" about running for governor, but has not made up his mind and is not considering any of the other offices that will or might be open next year.
"I'm not an office shopper," said Curtatone, who said he agrees with Patrick in the need for "generational investment" and holds up his management of the city of roughly 77,000 just north of Boston as an example. He said, "I would run with a plan and a commitment and a passion to get the job done."
In addition to Coakley, Treasurer Steve Grossman, former Obama Medicare and Medicaid chief Donald Berwick, biotechnology executive Joseph Avellone, Cape Cod Sen. Daniel Wolf, and national security expert Juliette Kayyem are running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Republican Charlie Baker and independent Evan Falchuk will also be candidates for governor in 2014.