Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Brighton Challengers for Mayor Menino?

Mayor Thomas Menino has been flexing his fund-raising muscle this fall, despite the fact that he was not on the ballot. Many are viewing this as a sign that he wants to run for re-election in 2009. More evidence? David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix couldn't get anyone to speak on -the-record, but provides this nugget ("Menino's Hit List"):
Sources also say that Menino’s people — particularly former chief of staff David Passafaro — are warning off anyone who provides aid and comfort to a potential rival. Those who contribute to a rumored mayoral candidate’s campaign committee, or who make introductions at ward committee meetings for a rumored candidate, these sources say, receive a reproachful call from Passafaro.
Who is poised to take on an incumbent Mayor Menino in 2009? Bernstein has a top-40 list. A number of Brighton residents show up in the list -- some real possibilities, others unlikely (Brighton residency given in the Phoenix article, not by my research):

6. Peter Meade, 61, Executive Vice President, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
11. Steven Tolman, 53, State Senator
12. Joe Kennedy, 55, Chairman, Citizens Energy; former Congressman
18. William Galvin, 57, Secretary of the Commonwealth
37. Kevin Honan, 49, State Representative
38. Michael Moran, 36, State Representative

It is a big step to go from a local district to a city-wide Mayoral race, so I find ranking our local representatives as quite a leap. On top of that, both Rep. Honan and Rep. Moran appear genuinely devoted to local issues and constituent services, as opposed to constantly aspiring to higher and higher office. That said, Secretary Galvin made the leap to state-wide office quite effectively.

Senator Tolman is an intriguing possibility: connections from brother Warren could be very useful for the vast fund-raising required by a city-wide election. But why hasn't Senator Tolman been raising much money in recent years? He had only $88,677.63 in his account as of year-end 2006, less than you would expect for someone thinking about getting a bigger office and poised to take on a powerful Mayor. Those connections of Tolman's may not be as profitable as you might think at first.

Former Congressman Kennedy and Secretary Galvin would be strong contenders if they had any interest in being Mayor; the Phoenix provides no evidence of such interest, so I find their inclusion in the list as odd. Secretary Galvin's associates may also be stinging a bit from their inability to throw a local election to their favorite candidate.

How About Flaherty?

My odds-making? The Phoenix's #1 pick, Councilor Michael Flaherty, has a shot only if he can knock off the Mayor neighborhood-by-neighborhood by aggressively adopting those residents' key local issues as his own.

He has to go to East Boston and take the residents' side by fighting hard against the Mayor on having a casino at Suffolk Downs. Go to Allston-Brighton and take the residents' side by fighting hard against unchecked expansion by Harvard and Boston College and their facilitator, the BRA. Walk the streets of Dorchester and Mattapan every night, arm-in-arm with community leaders, railing against rising violent crime rates and how City Hall isn't doing anything about it. Help South Boston residents replace garbage cans in the streets, after City workers remove them, thereby reserving their shoveled parking spaces. (OK, maybe a bad example.) Blame every major woe in every neighborhood on the Mayor, even if it isn't quite true.

That's the only way someone like Councilor Flaherty could take on incumbent Mayor Menino in 2009: on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, standing alongside the local residents on their biggest issue, and all-the-while blaming it everything on the Mayor. It would be a fun election to watch, but bound to be immensely negative.

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