^ deceptive innocence ? serious pol Councillor Michelle Wu with the late Mayor Menino
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Long ago, I learned politics while getting my monthly. haircut from one Frank Ciampa. Frank was Great Albano before Albano became great. He was East Boston’s political oracle, a Frank Bellotti guy first and always, an intense presence who served up politics the way Rino’s Place serves food.
Sitting in his chair, I was, one day in late 1971, as Frank told me “Michael, no one in politics ever respects you till you show you can hurt them !”As it turned out., Frank had a big hurt in mind — against Mayor Kevin White — and all through 1972 he brought the hurt, wave after wave of it. The details are for another time; but, boy, was frank ever correct.
Ask Michelle Wu, the City Council’s newly elected president.
Three days ago, Wu endorsed a candidate, of the six seeking our District’s Senate seat. Wu is Chinese-American, Boston’s leading Asian-origin politician. As it happens, there is a Chinese-American candidate among the six, Diana Hwang : a woman equally accomplished as is Wu and just as articulate; and Chinatown’s two precincts are part of this District. Wu had no obligation to endorse, but her endorsement of Diana Hwang would go a long way to securing those two precincts and lifting Hwang’s prospects throughout the Boston part of the District.
Wu chose otherwise. She endorsed Lydia Edwards, perhaps this contest’s most left.-leaning candidate with — from what I can see — the smallest base of support.
In her endorsement announcement, posted on facebook, Wu praised Edwatds for exactly those accomplishments : her social justice record and advocacy for immigrants and low wage workers. Not a word about Hwang.
I did not see this coming; but as I read it, Wu has accomplished several tasks vital to her future; and it is her future, not Edwards’s, which is the thing here : one, Wu removes lingering doubts about her bona fides as a “progressive” on account of her supporting Bill Linehan as prior council president; two, Wu cuts off Hwang’s vote base at the knees — as one politically sharp observer told me, “you could say she wants to be the only Asian American game in town” ; third, Wu gains Edwards as a future ally; four, proved to one and all that she can and will hurt people who might occupy her political space.
^ Diana Hwang : “nothing can stop us !”
This was a political assassination, and believe me, Boston pols are noticing. Wu speaks so softly you can hardly hear her, and she is sugar sweet in person. But the speech she gave after winning election as council president was tough, uncompromising, a wish list of “progressive:” aspirations. At the time, they were just words, perhaps. Now they are deeds.
It’s no secret to any of you who read me that I like Diana Hwang. Like her a lot. She is, as I see it, the candidate most aligned with Governor Baker’s reform mission, and with his political culture. So perhaps I receive Councillor Wu’s take-down of Hwang a little bit more personally than I should. Anyway, I asked Hwang for her response.
“Nothing can stop us !”
So said she after fumbling for the right resolve. I like her answer, but the story is what it is.
One other point. I have written, over and over again, that a six person primary is no way to pick a new State senator. Diana Hwang should be running as an independent, in the May 10th election, rather than in the primary, so that she could debate the issues one on one with the primary winner and thereby draw maximum voter attention to herself and her priorities. Had she done so, a Wu endorsement for her opponent would be seen as a mere party matter, of no great benefit to her and certainly no damage to Hwang.
But instead, we have the faction versus faction, palace-conspiracy Ottomanism of a six-way, low voter interest primary.
Someday, the wiser pols of our District will start listening to me on basic political stuff. Our District deserves better than what we are being given right now.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere