THE MAYORALTY OF MARTY WALSH : THE WEAKNESS COMES HOME TO ROOST

Michael Curry NAACP

^ “access, opportunity and results” : Michael Curry of the Boston NAACP and son at a rally recently

—- —- —-

In Friday’s Boston Globe appeared an article by Akilah Johnson in which was made clear that incoming mayor Marty Walsh will be monitored on his response to diversity issues and held accountable for his actions. Wrote Johnson in the article :

The group, calling itself The Inclusive Boston Alliance, is developing a score card to scrutinize the creation and implementation of education, public safety, employment, and economic development policies. The group plans to conduct status checks after the first 100 days of Walsh’s administration and again at the six-month, one-year, two-year, and four-year marks.

Access, opportunity, and results have to be the building blocks of the Walsh administration,” said Michael Curry, president of the Boston Branch NAACP, one of the organizations involved in the alliance. “That’s what communities of color voted for.”

The alliance, which plans to formally announce its intentions Friday, includes the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, the Commonwealth Compact at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and MassVOTE. These and several other community and civil rights groups came together during the campaign and held two debates focused on issues affecting communities of color.

In no way can any of this be a surprise to Walsh. He actively sought votes from Boston’s communities of color. The vote that they provided him tallied more than his own Primary vote. As I wrote immediately after the Primary and before it : one of the odd features of this election was that whoever won, a big majority of his vote would come from people who didn’t want him. It proved so. Now we see what the consequences are. The new Mayor either adopts as a priority the demands of those who voted for him as skeptics rather than supporters, or he is in trouble right away.

It would have been no different had John Connolly won. Except for one thing : Connolly was a much stronger candidate, politically, than Walsh. As Paul McMorrow has astutely pointed out, Connolly defeated Walsh in 95 of Boston’s 137 Caucasian-majority precincts. Connolly didn’t need to win any of the 118 COC-majority precincts; he only needed to break even, or to lose them slightly. Walsh needed to win these 118 precincts by 15 points. (He won all but 11, most of them by 20 to 25 points).

The numbers prove it. In the Final, Walsh carried 49 selected precincts (in Wards 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, m15, 17, and 18) by 5687 votes : almost 800 more votes than his city-wide win margin. In the Primary, Walsh won those same 49 precincts by a mere 110 votes. Between September 24 and November 5, Walsh’s Black community endorsers alone (I leave out precincts where Felix G. Arroyo was strong; his situation is different; see my Note below) brought Walsh an additional 5577 votes : again, about 700 more than his Final election win margin. Walsh has been called a “bridge Mayor” — bridge between the Menino years and a Mayor of color. The numbers and the politics of Connolly voters make a strong case for that assessment.

Connolly would have had much more liberty to negotiate the monitoring groups agenda than has Walsh. It is not clear to me that this calculation played a role in the endorsements that John Barros, Charlotte Golar-Richie, Gloria Fox, Russell Holmes, and most other politicians of color accorded Marty Walsh. But it would surprise me if (1) the political advantage offered them by Walsh’s vote weakness didn’t occur pretty soon after the endorsements were given and (2) the advantage didn’t occur right away to many of these endorsers’ advisors.

And another thing : make no mistake. Boston’s communities of color want a Mayor who “looks like them,’ as the campaign’s mantra often put it,  as soon as they can elect one. A Mayor Connolly would have been very hard to beat: because it is not at all clear that Marty Walsh’s Caucasian vote base would vote by 15 to 20 points for a candidate of color as readily as the precincts of color voted for Walsh. Whereas John Connolly’s voters are much more open to such a candidate and have always been. Can anyone doubt that had Walsh faced Charlotte Golar-Richie, she would have beaten Marty in almost every Ward carried by Connolly ?

Mayor Walsh will be much easier to defeat, than would have Connolly, if not in 2017 then definitely in 2021. I think that both parts of his coalition know this very well indeed. I think he knows it, too. He is moving all the chess pieces right now to make himself trusted as well as accepted, and nobody in Boston politics is better able to get there. But can he ? It will be interesting to see how Walsh’s political vulnerability plays out at the tables of power where Boston’s — and his — political future is decided.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

NOTE : I have left out Felix G. Arroyo frrom my analysis for three reasons : ( 1 ) he is Hispanic, not Black, and has a significantly smaller vote base than Charlotte Golar-Richie had ( 2 ) his endorsement was, I feel, given entirely sincerely on the issues and not in any way out of real-politik calculation and ( 3 ) if he is to win a fight to be Mayor he will have to break free of the coalition that he whole-heartedly embraced this time around. It won’t be easy, but Arroyo has tgime on his side. He’s only 34 years old !

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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