Massachusetts votes today in a primary to choose Democratic and Republican contenders for the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. Democrats are taking their pick from a crowded field, including Attorney General Martha Coakley, U.S. Representative Michael Capuano, City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, and Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca. Republicans face a choice between Massachusetts state senator Scott Brown and lawyer and politician Jack E. Robinson III.

Locals have not been bowled over. "Predictably," writes The Boston Globe, "none matches Kennedy's ability to represent both evergreen values and futuristic thinking." Springfield publication The Republican is less diplomatic. "Let's get one thing straight," the editors write: "Not one of the four Democratic candidates running for Ted Kennedy's seat in Tuesday's special election can ever take his place." So what does distinguish the candidates? Here's what the local news sources are saying about the colorful, yet uninspiring cast of characters:

  • Capuano: Raging Dog-Hater "And then there was the time," begins Michael Rezendes's Boston Globe profile of Michael Capuano, "he threatened to kill a dog." In a 1993 altercation in a park with a passerby whose dog was bothering Capuano's son, Capuano allegedly menaced both dog and owner with an aluminum baseball bat. "Although Capuano denied threatening to kill Brown," writes an amused Rezendes, "he never denied threatening to kill her dog and, to this day, remains unapologetic." Capuano says he was angry. Rezendes also recounts Capuano's response when questioned about his desktop "framed reproduction of a cartoon from his first run for Congress that shows him about to punch a hapless opponent in the face." Capuano "explains" that he's "proud of being a hard-nosed politician." The Boston Globe editorial board, however, in endorsing his opponent Khazei, calls Capuano's "us-against-them attitude ... divisive." Capuano's might not disagree. As he himself said, quoted by Rezende, "I'm still angry. I'm angry about a lot of things."
  • We'll Take an Angry Democrat over a Closet Republican Across the river, Wicked Local Cambridge points out that another Democratic candidate, Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca, "candidly admits to changing parties for, and donating to, friend and former boss Mitt Romney's campaign."
  • Who Is This Nutcase? The Globe also endorses, for the Republicans, Scott Brown. The paper is skeptical of his rival, Jack E. Robinson III, who "hopes to bring back the GOP progressive tradition of Theodore Roosevelt." The editors question the feasibility of his proposal to "stag[e] a Paris peace conference to negotiate with the Taliban."
  • Hate Them All The Lowell Sun declines to endorse a Democratic candidate, calling the options "uninspiring." For the Republicans, the publication chooses Scott Brown, citing his pledge to serve "maximum of two full terms, plus the remainder of the current term." This is not quite so damning as it sounds: the editors think the pledge "means he won't become ... beholden to special-interest groups."
  • Coakley Is a Westerner Like Us Springfield publication The Republican endorses Martha Coakley, who would be "the first native of Western Massachusetts to be a U.S. senator since 1931." Their reasons: "She knows us well. She understands our economy and how it differs from the rest of the state ... She is very straightforward. That's very characteristic of our region."