Sen. Warren neutral – for the moment – on Capuano v. Pressley

Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Chris Lovett photo

The Democratic Party may stand to gain from an infusion of young up-and-coming political hopefuls, but US Sen. Elizabeth Warren is not picking a side just yet in the race for Massachusetts’s 7th Congressional District, where Boston City Councillor at-Large Ayanna Pressley is making a run to unseat US Rep. Michael Capuano.

In a conversation with Reporter’s staff on Monday, Warren spoke enthusiastically about the rush of new voices seeking higher office across the country. “I love seeing and hearing new people come into the process,” she said. “That’s what it takes, if we’re going to be alive and vital and in the fight. We need everyone, and that means we need people who have been around the block before, who’ve done this before, but we also need newcomers to the fight.”

That dichotomy is playing out in the 7th race. Pressley, 43, appears ready to make a generational case for running against the 66-year-old Capuano, who has held the seat since first elected in 1998. The two progressive Democrats — a rising star of the party facing off against a 10-term congressman — maintain few differences in policy positions at this stage of the contest.

The contest has sparked a conversation about ambitious younger candidates balking at the entrenched wait-your-turn mentality for seeking office, especially in districts where voters have generally favorable views toward their longtime representatives.

“I just want to take the work that I’ve dedicated my life to higher and farther at a critical moment,” Pressley said in an interview with WBUR radio last Thursday afternoon. She added, “I don’t think someone has to be woefully awful for you to stand up and raise your hand to say that you have a different approach, and lens, and voice to lend to the same issues.”

In his WBUR interview that afternoon, Capuano responded by saying, “The district has changed. It’s always changing. The times have changed and people do need to change with them. I believe I have done that.”

On Monday, Warren said she regards both politicians as friends and valuable allies in government.

“Ayanna has been a passionate advocate on behalf of women, on behalf of children and families and I’ve been working with her for years now on issues that are dear to her heart,” the senator said. “Mike has also just been a terrific ally, particularly on financial services. He’s been there all during the financial crash, and the rebuilding to help us get some good provisions into Dodd Frank [the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act], and he’s been a strong supporter of the CFPB [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He truly has been a great partner in Washington.”

She continued, “So, they’re both good friends, both terrific people, and right now what I care about is hearing both of them, and I hope they will both make their contributions in public service.”

On Tuesday evening, Pressley attended the Ward 16 Democratic caucus at the McKeon Post in Neponset to make her case to some of the neighborhood’s most active party loyalists.

“I’m very encouraged that I think we’ve set a tonality early on that we’re going to run a positive campaign, and so, the reception has been warm,” Pressley told the Reporter before the caucus began. She plans to officially launch her campaign next Tuesday, Feb. 13.

“At a time when our democracy is being dismantled, we are at this time affirming democracy,” she told the caucus. “I respect Congressman Michael Capuano. I am so grateful for his contributions, we care about so many of the same things. I’m just hoping you will consider me so I can bring a different approach and a different lens, meeting people where they’re at, developing and building an agenda together, and just taking the work higher and farther than I’ve already been doing.”

Barbara Capuano, the congressman’s wife, was also at the caucus and addressed the room on behalf of her husband, who was in Washington.

“Mike is working hard,” she said. “He cares about his district. He is a very strong progressive.” Pointing to his voting record, she added, “Please consider him. Know what he’s done for you, and he will continue doing what he’s doing now, which is trying to help everyone.”