Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Predictions for the A-B District 9 City Councilor Preliminary Municipal Election

These predictions were filed before the polls closed at 8 pm on election day. This post is intended to show how clueless I am about local politics...

In a re-election bid by a candidate with broad name recognition and long-time ties to the community, Mark Ciommo should have little difficulty taking first place in today's preliminary municipal election.

The main story, however, I am predicting to be that he will only exceed 50% of the votes by a little bit, thereby guaranteeing that he will have to work hard in the next six weeks until the municipal election in order to get re-elected. The second story is that second place is really too-close-to-call between challengers Alex Selvig and Abigail Furey.

Ciommo was first elected in 2007 against Greg Glennon, an opponent who nonetheless got 40% of the vote despite alienating many in the neighborhood with his politically moderate views, lack of civic engagement in the community, modest financial resources, and a campaign that was awful in answering their phones or emails.

Ciommo's two main opponents in 2009 -- Selvig and Furey -- are unlikely to have Glennon's former boss, former state Representative Brian Golden, pulling all those strings behind the scenes. But I sense a significant level of discontent among some voters this time around in Ciommo's record during the past two years.

Selvig and Furey are both motivated, in part, by what they perceive to be Ciommo's too-friendly relationship with Boston College and its campus expansion review process. Selvig has better managed to expand his general criticism of how the city is run -- and, by association, the city councilor -- to issues beyond BC, such as rodents and absentee landlords.

Furey, on the other hand, appears to have some heavy-hitters behind the scenes when Pat Galvin, Mark Alford -- and now, Rabbi Dan Rodkin of the orthodox Jewish community -- all put Furey lawn signs up at their houses. (Pat Galvin later added a lawn sign for Selvig, too.)

The race for second place is really too close to call between Selvig and Furey.

Selvig had problems in his own Ward 22, Precinct 8 in 2007, when he won the plurality -- but only with around 1/4 of the vote. Expect Furey to give him a run-for-his-money, edging him out.

Furey should start racking up numbers next door in the Rabbi's 22/9 precinct, and make some small but significant gains at Wallingford Road's 21/13 precinct with the Russian Jewish community (at least the minority of votes Ciommo doesn't command).

Selvig can be expected to pick up gains over Furey along the Commonwealth Avenue corridor of Ward 21, but, as Tim Schofield showed two years ago, those votes are typically so few that Selvig needs to pick up more.

Ciommo will likely again dominate the Oak Square and Faneuil neighborhoods, piling up the numbers and just leaving scraps for Selvig and Furey to split.

The second-place race will probably be decided instead in North Allston. Selvig set up campaign shop there this time around, and has been knocking on doors like crazy -- including Charlesview, whose relocation is a major issue in this election. I think Selvig will pick up the rodent vote in North Allston and North Brighton -- those who were impacted and outraged by the outflux of rats in the past year, likely due to Harvard's Science Complex construction work -- and this will give him the overall edge for second place over Furey.

Third-year BU law student Ben Narodick, showed himself to be poised, well-spoken, and boned-up on local issues -- at least as much as you could expect a relative newcomer to the neighborhood to be. But people new to local politics, without any broad organizational support, usually get little more than 100 votes in this kind of election.

Prediction: Ciommo-Selvig-Furey-Narodick at 60%-20%-18%-2%.

I'm predicting that the District 9 result will be similar to the mayoral one: two challengers will duke it out in a close race for second place; and the incumbent will take a strong first place, but get a share of the vote close enough to 50% that the story for the next six weeks will be his potential vulnerability in the November election and the continued vibrant campaign.

Turnout prediction: 12% in Allston-Brighton.

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