Michael Capuano: ‘It’s not me. It’s whoever was in office in a place that has progressives.’

"That [has] a lot of young people that don't have a clue what happened yesterday, never mind five or 10 years ago," the outgoing congressman continued.

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano.
U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano. –Steven Senne / AP

Outgoing U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano says he knew even before his eventual successor Ayanna Pressley challenged him in the September primary that this year’s election was going to be a tough one for him.

But he dismissed the notion that he was targeted by voters hungry for change during a WBUR interview that aired Tuesday.

“It’s not me,” the 7th District Democrat said. “It’s whoever was in office in a place that has progressives. That [has] a lot of young people that don’t have a clue what happened yesterday, never mind five or 10 years ago. I get all that. And that’s fine. That’s not a problem to me.”

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The 10-term incumbent garnered 41.4 percent of the vote to Pressley’s 58.6 percent amid an election cycle that catapulted a wave of women, people of color, and Democrats into Congress.

Capuano, reflecting on his loss, said this week that voters are angry and upset with the direction of the country under President Donald Trump.

He heard that anger from constituents, and, although it wasn’t directed toward him specifically, “when that happens, you have a tough opponent,” he said.

“My hope is that it ends up something positive,” Capuano told WBUR. “My hope is that the people who came out to vote for the first time or one of the few times from this primary continue to vote and learn these issues and figure out how to actually change the system. Changing a few of the players in the system is insufficient.”

The longtime Somerville lawmaker also noted that Congress often receives new faces, but he stressed the importance of balancing them with experienced representatives.

“It’s no different than a business. It’s no different than your personal life,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with new blood, but it has to be balanced as well with people that have been around, that know the history of what has happened, know the internal relationships between people, know what you can do and what you can’t do. We’ve had plenty of new blood on a regular basis, including in the Massachusetts delegation, and that will not stop.”

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As Congresswoman-elect Presley takes office next month, Capuano isn’t quite sure what’s next for him. While he doesn’t plan to run for office again, he said he hasn’t ruled out working in public policy in some way.

“I’d like to find a way to continue doing it. I think I have a pretty good record on it,” he said. “With the experience I have, I can help people do it. So I’m looking for a way to do that — and there’s a thousand ways to do it.”

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