BOSTON MAYOR FINAL : BOTH MEN WIN 1ST DEBATE

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^ John Connolly — Marty Walsh : first face off of three

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Boston’s first face to face between John Connolly and Marty Walsh was a winner for both men. John Connolly was the clear winner on presentation and policy discussion. Walsh, however, also won, by simply showing up and holding his own, most of the night, and occasionally on top. He benefited by being the lesser known of the two. It’s always that way in a first debate. the underdog always wins; and with 18 to 23 percent of Boston’s voters undecided — so say the recent polls — Walsh almost couldn’t lose. and as he was always articulate and quite knowledgeable during the Forums held before Primary day, it was pretty clear that he WOULDN’T lose.

That Walsh won last night we see by twitter follower numbers. Since the debate began, Walsh has picked up 64 new twitter follows, Connolly 40. (Numbers as of 10.40 AM today.) Small evidence, but palpable. Last night Walsh increased his support more than Connolly did.

Still, Connolly did gain. He stayed reasonably close to Walsh only because his policy presentation commanded the night. The first five questions were about education, Connolly’s issue; education came up again later, and often. He also dominated Walsh on city finances and budget issues. How could he not ? It gave him the opportunity to raise “the union issue,” Walsh’s riskiest attribute, in a context that emphasized its risk. But there was more. Walsh exhibited a lack of understanding of admittedly technical finance matters. He tried to attack Connolly for not being present during a certain city union contract negotiation ; Connolly pointed out that by law he was not allowed to be there, in the negotiating room. Responding to a question about raising City revenue, Walsh talked about bringing in new businesses — but on a regional basis. How would bringing new businesses to Somerville — a city that he specifically cited — add revenue to Boston ? The question was not asked of him.

My observers pointed out that, in discussion of the bill that Walsh has filed to remove City Council review power over arbitrators’ union contract awards, when pressed on its effect, he said “no comment.” It was the big talking point for most journos. Myself, I found it a proper answer. That hill, House 2467, is one that hangs over Walsh’s campaign like a storm of belfry bats. Far better to shut up than to talk of it.

That bill will come up again, though. two debaters remain. Walsh will no longer be the lesser known man. Unless Walsh quickly finds a way to master the details of city finances, and to deflect the effect on them of higher city worker pay awards, and to explain away House 2467, the contradictions in his campaign will stand out for all viewers to grasp, much to his detriment.

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^ Pastor Bruce Wall, Meg Connolly, John Connolly, Pastor Minyard Culpeper, Pastor William Dickerson

Meanwhile, Connolly is deepening his connection to Boston’s Black community and widening it, to people not often reached by anyone, and in ways I haven’t seen since John Sears ran for Mayor in 1967. That was before the huge social and political split that took place during the fight over Boston school segregation and school busing, a crisis whose passions took almost two generations to abate. Connolly’s achievement — worked at over many, many years — seems to me to have entirely swamped Walsh’s endorsement by Charlotte Golar-Richie. In campaigns as serious as this one, years and years of hard won trust and connection, on a very personal level too, can not be turned aside by a two-month embrace, no matter how noble and sincere the outreach.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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