^ selfie-ing with the people : Mayor Walsh so far has no obvious opponent for his upcoming re-election

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About three months ago i wrote that the re-election campaign for mayor Marty Walsh had already begun. This may not be evident to you. No specifically campaign events have come for us so far. Nonetheless, the campaign is well under way — more about this later — except for one somewhat important factor : who will Walsh’s opponent be ?

I assume he will have one. Mayors do not get re-elected unopposed. Not even Tom Menno, podesta of Boston for 20 years, managed an unopposed re-election. Seven or eight months ago, an opponent, maybe more than one, looked certain. City Councillor Tito Jackson seemed gearing up to run at Walsh as the tribune of the Boston teachers’ union, Roxbury long-time residents, and the “Black Lives Matter:” movement : traditional urban progressive stances; and it looked as if he would have quite widespread support and sufficient money to make a serious go of things. And then things changed.

First, Jackson’s candidate to succeed Gloria Fox as State Representative was defeated ; by a  supporter of charter schools, no less. Meanwhile, Mayor Walsh declared his opposition to the Charter cap Lift initiative that was torched at the November election. Until then, Walsh had been seen — no mistake — as a supporter of charter school expansion, not to mention school consolidation via closings of excess school buildings. These plans were well publicized and made Walsh the target of the same groups Jackson had become the voiced of.

Then came Walsh’s decision to cast aside his charter school expansion project — to hold it for another day (a year prior he had so testified at the State House hearings on Governor Baker’s charter cap lift legislation, but his testimony had been forgotten) and become, himself, a voice for the Teacher’s Union position with respect to the Boston school budget. Walsh must well have known that the union’s arguments about Boston schools being underfunded were giraffe soup : but he voiced them nonetheless, and while his opponents in the public school advocacy arena like him no better, he ceased to be their number one 2017 target. As a result, Tito Jackson’s candidacy is much less talked of now and may not transpire at all.

Walsh has moved on another Jackson front : race relations in the city. Our communiti8es of color enjoy a fair but not ideal relationship with the Police; mandatory body cameras remain a debated matter; so does staffing. Walsh knows this full well; knows that his own hiring record of people of color isn’t great. Thus he has initiated a series of conversations on race relations in Boston, using his :Mondays with the mayor’ as a model. The first such convo was very well attended, and that by itself marks his initiative a success.

The Mayor has also fundraised, big time. As of this writing, he had $ 1,712,346.36 in his account (according to OCPF filings), a figure that does not account for the huge birthday fundraiser held three nights ago at Venezia in Dorchester. A hard fought re-electrion might cost three to five million dollars; but Walsh’s nearly two million looms large against the cash on hand for any potential candidate on people’s likely list.

So, who will it be ? The usual names don’t seem to be moving toward candidacy, and the less usual haven’t made much noise either. Given Walsh’s favorable-unfavorable rating, with numbers almost as outstanding as those for Governor Baker, it’s hard right now to forsee any but a token or newcomer candidacy, somebody with nothing to lose and maybe a name to make for the future. Is there a city councillor ready to make the case ? I can’t name one likely. A State Representative ? Can’t point to one of those either. A businessman ? A civic activist ? That night work, but the business community’s political image was cratered by its amateurish failure in both the Boston 2024 and IndyCar race ventures.

I guess we’re going to all end up surprised by whoever decides to make the move. It has to happen soon, though. Primary day is barely ten months away, electrion less than eleven.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



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