^ John Connolly : the school issue is his and very possibly the election
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You’ve all seen the three new polls published on Boston’s Mayor campaign. (If you haven’t seen them, go look.) Taken together, they show the following percents of vote for the top nine contenders :
Connolly at 14 to 16
Walsh at 10 to 12
Conley at 8 to 12
Golar-Richie at 10
Arroyo at 6 to 8
Consalvo at 6 to 8
Barros at 3 to 6
Walczak at 4 to 6
Ross at 5
Undecided : 19 to 22
There isn’t, or shouldn’t be, much doubt about what these numbers tell us :
1. John Connolly will be in the Final. He appears very much in command of the race. School transformation is his issue, it’s the voters’ number one issue too, and he articulates his agenda for schools with authority, detail, conviction, and a convincing tie-in to the other two major issues, jobs and public safety. His field organization — “ground game” in this campaign’s argot — is broadly based, in very diverse communities of the city, and well versed in what field organizations are supposed to in a primary : get out the vote. Plus, his Mom’s from Charlestown. That, dear readers, is authenticity.
^ Marty Walsh : the voice of Urgency
2. Marty Walsh should be in the Final, because his issue is a clear alternative one to Connolly’s : keeping the construction boom going in Boston — and expanding its reach, because it furthers economic development and creates good jobs. Unfortunately for Walsh, his issue is a smaller one than Connolly’s. There are 58,000 public school parents in Boston and lots more who would be public school parents if they could perceive the city’s public schools as good enough. There are far fewer than 58,000 construction jobs in city. The particularity of Walsh’s vision threatens to keep him out of second place — more on that below; but, fortunately for his chances, he is backed by a field organization as large as Connolly’s (and maybe larger) and passionately dedicated to this campaign’s “candidate of Urgency.”
It also helps that he is a true son of Boston’s land of on-street parking and rows of three deckers. That, dear readers, is grit and lumber !
^ Dan Conley : administrative reform may not be sexy enough to win a spot in the final
3. Dan Conley might edge past Walsh to the second spot because as Suffolk County District Attorney (and former District 5 Councillor) he is already a proven city-wide administrator who speaks in authoritative detail — and with conviction — about the reforms he would bring to city administration, the police and fire departments most of all. He has tons of money and a field organization as dependable — if less passionate or diverse — as Walsh’s. His problem is that city administration reform isn’t an issue that hits voters where they live, as do schools and jobs. A Mayor can always hire an administrative reformer.
^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : political history is her mother earth
4.Charlotte Golar-Richie has risen in the polls. She now contends. This she has done by dint of being the only woman in the candidate list — something she rarely neglects to mention — and the most prominent of color. This is, oddly, a candidate of identity politics, a winner 30 and 40 years ago but probably not today. Voters of color give her strong backing, but by no means overwhelming. Today they want results, not image. Golar-Richie is also hindered by her forensics. At Forums and on the stump she sometimes articulates a vision, sometimes not. Even at her best the vision seems flavorless — a less punitive version of Conley’s “I Will Reform City Administration.” Uneven articulation of mild reform excites no one, and thus Golar-Richie’s field organization — and her voters — seem lacking the necessary force to “get out the vote” on Primary day. That is why she polls in fourth place.
UPDATE : as expected, Golar-Richie today received endorsement by State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and state Rep. Russell Holmes. BUT … State Rep. Byron Rushing endorsed Felix Arroyo….
^ Particularist candidates ; Felix arroyo (above) and Rob Consalvo
5.Felix Arroyo and Rob Consalvo seem matched pairs. as Consalvo’s poll has declined, Arroyo’s has increased. They now poll the same. Each has the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) endorsement. Each man has a campaign theme that no rival encroaches upon : Arroyo’s theme is a “pathway out of poverty,” through full-day schools to jobs which, with union organization behind them, can pay well. (Arroyo never fails to mention how as an organizer of janitors, he got their pay boosted from $ 9.00 an hour with no benefits to $ 16,.00 an hour with full benefits.) He also talks “invest in Boston,’ a program — just now voted favorably by the City Council — to require banks in which the City keeps its money (a billion dollars) to invest in Boston businesses. Consalvo, meanwhile, has taken to being the BTU’s voice on school reform, an agenda quite unlike Connolly’s, one which takes the risky position of defending Boston Public school performance. The problem for both men, and why they poll at only 6 to 8 percent, is that the voters either do not agree (Consalvo) or are to narrow a constituency (Arroyo) to get either candidate close to a second place Primary finish. Limited visions with limited constituencies may well exhibit great passion ; both Consalvo and Arroyo have that from their supporters. But a passionate vote counts no more than a coolly reflective one, just as the keys on a laptop only punch one letter at a time no matter how hard your finger hits them.
^ Brilliance : Mike Ross (and John Barros) speak vividly of tomorrow. But the elect is today.
6. Mike Ross and John Barros poll lower still. The two men are the brightest and most progressive visionaries of all the candidates. No one speaks more eloquently. None has a surer grasp of what city life will be tomorrow. So what is the problem ? First, neither man leads a large constituency. Ross’s Back Bay / Beacon Hill / Mission Hill District has little in common, economically or culturally, with the rest of the City. Barros is a hero to the denizens of Dudley Square, which the organization that he founded has revitalized; to the citizens of Uphams’ Corner, where he lives; and to Boston’s Cape Verdean community. But even if you add up all three of Barros’s bases, it’s small potatoes compared to the city as a whole. And this is his first race ever for elected office.
7.The 19 % undecided. It’s still the largest number of any in the three polls. theoretically it’s large enough to anoint or eliminate anyone. That will not happen. undecided voters do one of the following : ( a ) not vote at all ( b ) vote for a perceived winner, because they know him or her best anyway or ( c ) decide on the issues, among several who they are considering. The first group doesn’t count. The second trends to John Connolly. the third will likely divide in many directions. My guess is that the undecideds won’t change the current poll very much. They’ll simply fatten its numbers.
—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere