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Political Intelligence

Capuano still weighing his options on possible Senate bid

Michael Capuano of Somerville is considering a run against Scott Brown. Michael Capuano of Somerville is considering a run against Scott Brown. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff/File 2009)
By Glen Johnson
Globe Staff / August 28, 2011

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Count US Representative Michael E. Capuano among the most shocked Democrats in Massachusetts in January 2010, when the party lost the special election to replace the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

A month earlier, after he was beaten in a party primary by Attorney General Martha Coakley, Capuano defiantly declared at a unity rally: “There is no way in hell we’re going to elect a Republican to Ted Kennedy’s seat.’’

Forty days later, that happened, as an upstart state senator, Scott Brown, claimed “the people’s seat’’ for the GOP.

Now, as Brown seeks election to his first full, six-year term, Capuano is considering another Senate campaign. His self-proclaimed deadline is the end of the summer, which may be Sept. 23 on the calendar but, in political terms, won’t be much later than Labor Day.

Seven Democrats have already declared their candidacies, and Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren appears poised to join the field when she completes her late-summer “listening tour.’’

Talk to those around Capuano and you learn it’s gut-check time for the former Somerville mayor.

The pugnacious politician would love nothing more than to take on Brown, seen by the Democrats as fortunate to catch Coakley and the party napping 18 months ago. Democrats also believe he has been calculating with his votes, siding with their party when he wants to convey bipartisanship but voting against state interests at times to maintain support within the GOP.

Capuano is a capital-L liberal who sees himself not only carrying on the tradition of former House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip’’ O’Neill Jr., who once held his seat, but also Kennedy, a party icon.

But Warren threatens to run with that same philosophy, as do Brookline Democrat Alan Khazei and Somerville activist Bob Massie.

Different this time, too, is that Capuano would have to give up his House seat to run for the Senate. That wasn’t the case in the special election.

In a prepared statement, an aide counseled patience.

“Congressman Capuano is in the final phase of the decision-making process and will be making an announcement regarding the Senate soon,’’ said spokeswoman Alison Mills.

The call of duty The end of summer also raises another question: Just when is Brown headed to Afghanistan for his National Guard training?

All guardsmen have a service commitment of one weekend per month and two weeks during the summer, and Brown’s public schedule has helped narrow the window for the assignment he confirmed in May.

As a lawyer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, he is not part of a unit that is being deployed, but he has requested his summer service in Afghanistan this year. Brown has never served in a combat zone before.

The senator and the rest of Congress were in session until Aug. 2, when they began their annual recess. Three days later, Brown kicked off a cross-state jobs tour. It continued through Aug. 15 . Two days after that, he attended the opening of a regional office in Plymouth.

Last Monday, Brown issued a statement on the rebel victory in Libya but dropped off the public radar. Typically, guardsmen spend time in pre-deployment exercises before heading overseas.

Brown’s staff refused to comment on his whereabouts, citing security concerns not only for the senator but the troops who will be around him. The Massachusetts National Guard, meanwhile, was preoccupied with hurricane preparations and had no comment.

Were Brown to be overseas for the next two weeks, he could be in Afghanistan for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The Senate, however, is due to end its recess on Sept. 6.

Patrick takes a break Governor Deval Patrick snuck in a nearly three-week vacation this month.

His public schedule acknowleged he was heading to Bermuda from Aug. 5-11, and then Maine from Aug. 12-15.

Then, until Friday, there were a series of daily schedules simply stating, “No public events scheduled.’’

The governor was at his vacation home in the Berkshires. But aides say he was working some of the time, as proven by the deal he cut with legislative leaders on casino gambling.

Glen Johnson is lead blogger for Political Intelligence, available online at www.boston.com/politics. He can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.