NO SURPRISES IN THREE SUFFOLK COUNTY SPECIAL ELECTIONS

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^ a happy moment for the Ryan Family — and for 40 years of Charlestown people

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Finally the three Special State Representative Elections have come and gone, the results known. For all the noise and drama, for all the cold and snow, the darkness and slog, the results in all three elections closely paralleled my personal predictions — both to result and total vote.

I wish there had been a surprise or two. But there wasn’t even one. Which does NOT mean there wasn’t big news. There was. Plenty of it, too.

( 1 ) BIG STORY OF THE NIGHT : the 2nd Suffolk District, which finally, after almost 40 years, elected a Charlestown guy, the Town’s first elected voice since Jimmy Collins left office in the late 1970s. Dan Ryan, an aide to Congressman Mike Capuano, did the trick:

Charlestown vote : Dan Ryan 2,071, Chris Remmes 359, Roy Avellaneda 122
Chelsea vote : Dan Ryan 229, Chris Remmes 79,l Roy Avellaneda 1,038
Totals : Dan Ryan 2,290 Chris Remmes 438, Roy Avellaneda 1,260

Total vote cast : 3,901. I predicted 4,000

Charlestown wanted this seat badly. BADLY. It outvoted Chelsea two to one. The usual vote is six to five Charlestown. But not this time.

Not many of Jack Kelly’s young Charlestown generation — who buoyed Kelly’s strong City Council candidacy in last year’s Boston elections — seemed to show. It was an older vote. In three hours at Charlestown polls — I visited each one — I saw only one millenial show up to cast a ballot. Nor were many young people visible at Ryan’s victory party. he won the race two to one; a message has been sent, and it’s a good one; but Ryan has serious work to do outreaching to the millenials whose lives have been ravaged by the drug war that Mayor Walsh last year proclaimed, at a Charlestown “Mondays with Marty’ meeting, was afoot on the streets of what is now Dan Ryan’s base.

A re-election campaign awaits Ryan.

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^ happy to build friendships in Charlestown : Mayor Walsh at Dan Ryan’s victory

( 2 ) THE RACE TO SUCCEED MARTY WALSH : speaking of Mayor Walsh, his place in the legislature has now been taken — convincingly — by a man very different. Dan Hunt, whose Dad and brother have trier to win the 13th Suffolk State Representative seat, conquered it big time :

Dorchester vote:

Dan Hunt 2,249 John O’Toole 1,052 Liam Curran 880 PJ McCann 230 Gene Gorman 137

Quincy vote (one precinct !)

Dan Hunt 88 John O’Toole 30 Liam Curran 10 PJ McCann 8 Gene Gorman 1

Total vote : Hunt 2,337 O’toole 1,082 Curran 890 McCann 238 Gorman 138

Total ballots cast : 4,791. (I predicted 5,000)

Dan Hunt won 46.5 % of all ballots, in a five man field. That’s about as convincing as it gets. His victory was fully expected. I said as much in two articles. He has the legislative chops, he started early, he raised much more money than his rivals, he had lots of endorsements and most of the district’s “opinion leaders.” Hunt is no throwback. He gets it. He will likely be an influential legislator before his first term is out. Yes, he has to run for re-election almost immediately, for a full term. I doubt that will be a problem.

( 3 ) The easiest to predict of the three races was the one in Revere, mostly; the 16th Suffolk state Representative seat vacated by Kathi Reinstein. Roselee Vincent won the Democratic nomination. Unlike the other two Suffolk districts, however, she isn’t saeted yet. She faces Republican Todd Taylor on April 1st.

Revere vote : Roselee Vincent 990 Linda Rosa 550 Josh Monahan 81
Chelsea vote : Roselee Vincent 75 Linda Rosa 42 Josh Monahan 277
Saugus vote : (unavailable at the Town of Saugus website as of 12.30 PM 03.05.14; will update when I can)
Total vote not including Saugus : Vincent 1,065 Rosa 592 Monahan 358
Total ballots cast not including Saugus : 1,746. I predicted 2,000 total.

Roselee Vincent has been chief aide to both Kathi Reinstein and her father Bill Reinstein. She represents continuity in a city where stability is almost an article of faith. She raised more money than all her rivals combined, had practically the entire Revere political community backing her, and seems assured of winning both on April lst and in November. But revere is by far the most Republican voting community in Suffolk County, and Saugus, in Essex County, votes even more so. Vincent’s victory over a strong, Revere Republican opponent — were one to arise — would not be at all assured. Linda Rosa is the most Tea Party-ish Democrat I’ve encountered in all of Suffolk County. Were she to run as a Republican, Vincent would face a real battle.

On now to April 1st, when the 5th Suffolk state Representative seat holds ITS special electioon, to succeed the ousted Carlos Henriquez. And when Revere votes too.

Also on tap for April 1st : the voters of the 5th Middlesex State Senate District, where Democratic nominee Jason Lewis, of Winchester, now faces Melrose alderman Monica Medeiros in a seat held by Republican Rich Tisei for 22 years.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

SPECIAL ELECTIONS : WHERE THE MONEY IS … AND ISN’T

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^ big money winner in the 13th Suffolk : Dan Hunt campaigning on a wintry night

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If you want to know what’s likely to happen in the four (4) Special state legislature elections now reaching climax day in the Boston area, it’s well worth looking at the money.

Always when I talk money, I have to offer this disclaimer, so here it is : yes, money isn’t everything in politics; people do the voting. They count too.

Yet Massachusetts’ $ 500 limit on donations, and the almost complete absence of secret conspiracy money in special elections, allows the greenback trail to say a lot about how many people are walking that trail to the voting booth. Here’s the OCPF for all four races :

13th Suffolk district (much of Dorchester and one precinct of North Quincy)

Liam Curran —- raised 22,387.53
spent 13,197.92
balance 9,189.71
Gene Gorman — raised 9,795.00
spent 4,878.37
balance 4,916.63
Dan Hunt ——- started with about 45,000.00
raised 49,615.00
spent 61,297.06
balance 43,371.11
PJ McCann —- raised 15,070.00
spent 3,180.52
balance 11,809.42
John O’Toole — no report filed as of this morning

2nd Suffolk District (Charlestown and three-quarters of Chelsea)

Roy Avellaneda — raised 28,460.00
spent 5,884.49
balance 22,575.51
Chris Remmes —- started with 23,560.00
raised 26,460.00
spent 30,476.36
balance 19,420.85
Dan Ryan ———- started with 2,500.00
raised 4,039.18
spent 29,990.43
balance 17,370.11

16th Suffolk District (most of Revere; one-quarter of Chelsea; two precincts of Saugus)

Josh Monahan — raised 6,455.18
spent 2,772.17
balance 3,682.01
Linda S Rosa —– raised 5,100.00
spent 2,596.76
balance 2,503.24
Todd Taylor (R) — raised 7,115.00
spent 2,551.06
balance 4,563.94
Roselee Vincent – raised 42,598.92
spent 27,257.19
balance 15,344.73

5th Middlesex Senate (Malden, Melrose, Stoneham, Wakefield, Reading, most of Winchester)

Chris Fallon — started with 8,400.00
raised 52,947.00
spent 52,284.01
balance 9,566.59
Anthony Guardia — started with 2,550.00
raised 19,245.00
spent 11,284.42
balance 10,510.58
Jason Lewis — started with 109,723.25
raised 37,185.00
spent 89,242.69
balance 57,665.56
Monica Medeiros (R) — started with 2,443.60
raised 4,275.00
spent 2,101.78
balance 4,516.87

As you can read, in two of the three State Representative races there’s a clear donor winner. Dan Hunt, in the Dorchester-Quincy District, has raised more money than all his rivals combined (leaving out John O’Toole, who has yet to report.) Roselee Vincent, of the Revere-centered District, holds an even larger advantage over her combined opponents. Even before I researched the money, Hunt and Vincent looked like winners on March 4th Primary day. Their dollar results certainly don’t wrongfoot me.

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^ overall money leader in the 2nd Suffolk : Chris Remmes

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^ 2nd Suffolk money leader in this reporting period : Dan  Ryan

Things are less clear in the Charlestown and Chelsea District. All three men have raised credible money. Question is, will this race’;s dominant money raiser, Chris Remmes, dominate the vote ? On the ground, he looks like 3rd place, but the money says otherwise. The bulk of it comes from donors living outside the district, but that isn’t a disqualification. Perhaps the decider is how much money the three have raised in this reporting period. Dan Ryan is the clear leader — but not by a number overwhelming. My conclusion : these three men are very, very dissimilar, and in a district with many different voter strains, there’s money to support those dissimilarities. Primary day may tabulate a very, very close result.

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^ scant money raised, in a District arguably Republican : Monica Medeiros of Melrose

The State Senate special election taking place along Route 28 north of Everett, from Malden to Reading, offers surprises of its own. For 22 years this was Republican Ricard Tisei’s seat almost uncontestably; yet now, the lone Republican candidate, a Melrose City Alderman, has raised almost no money at all. There are three Democrats running; two have raised large money. The big name, Chris Fallon, has, however, been significantly beaten in the money game by Winchester state representative Jason Lewis. I haven’t covered this race at all and have no opinion on who will likely win the Democratic nomination — though the twitter-verse has recently talked up Lewis.

If he wins, he will face the Republican, who in a District quite competitively two-party ought to be a serious opponent and even, given the disconnect going on right now between suburbs and Beacon Hill, the favorite. But the money record tells a much different story. Why Monica Medeiros shows so weakly, I don’t know, but given the anti-voter turn being taken by right wing activists — who have all but sharked our State’s local-level GOP — I can think of a reason : there’s no constituency, outside of right-wing cocoons, for anti-voter politics, and hopefully there never will be. Whether Medeiros shares this anti-voter bent I will try to find out during the run-up to an april 1st Final.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

PICKING MARTY WALSH’S SUCCESSOR : DAN HUNT’S THE MAN TO BEAT

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^ the man to beat : Dan Hunt

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Five Democrats seek nomination to become the next State Representative from the Dorchester-based District that Marty Walsh gave up to take office as Boston mayor. Dan Hunt, John O’Toole, Liam Curran, Paul “PJ” McCann, and Gene Gorman have been campaigning for weeks now — Hunt, longer than that — in the coldest winter we’ve seen in decades, in the snow and often in the dark. They’re “knocking doors,” as they put it; “standing out” — sign-holding — at major intersections with as many supporters as can take single-digit temperatures; doing “meet and greets” at local pubs; raising funds at what Dan Hunt calls a “friend-raiser”; and “getting on the phones” to reach the District’s “super voters” — those who always vote, including in the District’s one Quincy precinct, assuming they know there’s an election going on.

Last night the race got even more serious, as all five men spoke and answered questions at the Cedar Grove Civic Association’s candidate Forum. Cedar Grove — the part of Neponset that borders Quincy — isn’t just another Dorchester neighborhood; in last year’s Mayor election, almost 75 % of the area’s voters actually voted, by far the highest percentage in all Boston. No surprise, then, that about 70 people showed up to listen, or that State Representative Dan Cullinane, from the District across Granite Street, was in the room, as was State Senator Linda Dorcena-Forry.

For candidates at the very local level, even in a varsity political neighborhood — and Dorchester is super varsity, a candidate Forum presents a challenge. You must be ready to speak well, in a voice confidently loud, to give opening and closing remarks not read from notes, and to talk with appreciable knowledge about the major issues. So it was at Cedar Grove.

Gene Gorman, a professor at Emerson college, spoke eloquently and to the point on almost every question asked.

Dan Hunt, generally considered the likeliest to win, spoke with steady confidence about his readiness and with skilled nuance about issues not cookie-cutter simple. Proudly he listed four union endorsements, including the big one : Service Employees International Local 1199, whose work for Marty Walsh is thought by many to have made the difference in last year’s Mayor election,

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Liam Curran ^ looked and sounded the eager, even passionate young attorney that he is, in the City of Boston law department. He has the support of Mayor Walsh’s brother and mother — and has made sure everyone knows it — and over and over he cited Marty Walsh’s priorities as the agenda he would adhere to. Like Walsh, Curran was a Labor Union member –Laborers’ local 223. This too he made known.

John O’Toole, himself a past president of the Cedar Grove Civic Association, spoke strongly about neighborhood issues and gave a shout out, by name, to many in the room with whom he has worked with on various neighborhood concerns over the past 20 years. O’Toole, too, has labor support, more Locals than have endorsed Hunt, but at the Forum he named none.

“PJ” McCann — speaking in a voice soft and conversational, hard to hear easily in the long, large meeting room — stressed his experience drafting legislation, collaboratively with many agencies, and his work at the City of Boston’s Public Health Commission.

It has been frustrating for me to pin down any of the five to specifics of major issues facing Massachusetts : transportation funding; education reform and funding; curbing urban violence. Last night, Cedar Grove’s President Sean Weir had no better luck. Granted that the first two issues are complex and coated in controversy, and that the third issue isn’t really a matter of legislation; it would still have been nice to hear what the five will work for by way of funding, and where that funding will come from. You can be sure that the word ‘taxes’ graced no one’s lips all night long.

All five men support raising the minimum wage, and those who addressed the matter of unemployment insurance give-backs all said that it was irrelevant to raising the wage. But Speaker Robert DeLeo, who controls all legislation because he appoints all House committee members, says that the two are indeed connected and that minimum wage legislation must connect them ; and no one, at the Forum, or in conversations with me, has faced the fact. We are left to assume that each of the five, if elected, will make the District’s opinion heard — and then vote the Speaker’s way.

That said, the true importance of this election lies not in legislative specifics but in the loudness and confidence of the voice that will be the 13th Suffolk’s going forward. Can any of these men be a next Marty Walsh, a major voice in labor — or other — issues, a sought-after endorsement in city and state elections, even a potential Mayor ? Because this, not positions on the issues, is the standard for the District’s voters. They are accustomed to having their representative be a center of influence and attention, and they vote in large numbers seeking it. Everybody I speak to expects 4,000 to 6,000 votes to be cast on March 4th Primary day.

The only question is, what KIND of center of attention do these voters want ? Only two of the five men seem to recognize this question as the race’s big decider : Liam Curran and Dan Hunt. Curran has lost no opportunity to pronounce himself the most Marty Walsh of the candidates; and having the mayor’s brother and Mom in his corner gives his pronunciamento some truth. He has pushed the point perhaps too far. Mayor Walsh early on announced himself staying completely out of the race : Curran’s message, has, say some, forced the mayor to embrace Dan Hunt, who is said to be his preferred choice anyway. A day after Curran made major publicity of a photograph taken of him with Walsh’s brother and mother, Mayor Walsh insisted, at a Labor breakfast, on having his picture taken with Hunt, a man very different.

Hunt doesn’t look like Marty, doesn’t sound like him, has a personal history all his own. He grew up in a political household — his Dad Jim Hunt held administrative positions in Boston City governance for decades. As he said at the Forum, he was “sign holding even as a six year old” and “a lifetime, so far, of political and state House service, as staff to two committees.” Not many election hopefuls in today’s America would tout long staff service in government. But a hopeful who understands that Dorchester voters want exactly that makes it a major closing remark.

At Cedar Grove, Hunt sounded confident, commanding, with no equal among the five on that score; and when he cited that Senator Dorcena Forry has endorsed him, it seemed a knockout punch. Had she really done so ? I asked him that question after the Forum, and, yes, he told me, she has in fact endorsed him. That’s quite a step for her to take in a five way local primary. But it makes sense, because of all the five, Hunt alone spoke like a voice of clout who can back up his claim.

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John O’Toole ^ stressed his long history of neighborhood activism, and commands maybe the largest Labor contingent ; all good ; but Labor is split in this race, and neighborhood activist isn’t the office being elected. Liam Curran emphasized how Marty Walsh he is ; but the voters want a voice unique as Walsh, not his duplicate. Gene Gorman has all the issues command that anyone could ask ; but a policy wonk can be the Representative’s issues person. Then there’s PJ McCann : respected, articulate, Harvard graduate, experienced in legislation, with a public heath issues priority vital to city life today, McCann seems more City Councillor than State Representative, a voice among collegial voices, not an advocate going to a place where more are strangers or opponents than allies.

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^ likeable, smart, and gentle : “PJ” McCann at the Cedar Grove Forum

Hunt started first, raised $ 59,365 before the special election was called, and — so he said to me — “has personally knocked on the door of every super voter in the district.” 4,000 doors in two months time, I asked ? “Yes,” he said. And : “I’ve attended every civic association meeting at least twice,. No neighborhood association is too small, I visit them all.”

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^ door-knocking at night in a winter campaign ; Dan Hunt with voter list in hand

Yes, the race continues. Yes, John O’Toole, especially, is working to catch up. Yet the race looks Hunt’s to lose. Basic work every waking hour, no mistakes, much money, the largest social media presence, strong support from most of the District’s leaders — including Bill Walczak, who ran for Mayor and got 136 votes in his crucial, Savin Hill precinct even with Walsh on the ballot; City Clerk Maureen Feeney, who was Dorchester’s City Councillor; and Supreme Court Clerk Maura Doyle — and a resume that fits the image. Little wonder that this election is looking like a Dan Hunt victory on March 4th

— Mike Freedberg / for Here and Sphere

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^ “freezin’ for a reason,” says John O’Toole, door knocking in savin Hill.

13TH SUFFOLK : CAMPAIGNING IN THE DARK, COLD & SNOW

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^ door-knocking alone on a winter cold day ; John O’Toole working Savin Hill’s Grampian Way

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Six men seek the State Representative office that Marty Walsh resigned to become Boston’s Mayor. Since the beginning of January, they’ve ben out and about meeting voters. It’s hard enough to run a race with five rivals on your case. Try doing it in a Boston winter !

If you look closely at the snap of John O’Toole above, you’ll see that he has a voter list in his hand, and a pen. He isn’t just door-knocking. He is seeking out specific doors, at which he is trying to meet a “good voter” — someone who will almost definitely vote in the cold-blast election he is moving toward.

This is campaigning the way one-finger hunt and peck typing is writing.

You HAVE to door-knock. A door here, another door there, two doors on the next street — a lot of walking. With the sun setting at 5 pm — as early as 4.25 pm when January began — by the time that voters get home from work, it’s already dark. Many voters won’t open their door when it’s dark, older voters in particular. The most reliable voters are the older voters. How do you meet them ? OK, you can door-knock older voters on the weekend, in the daytime. Oh wait : only four weekends remain before the March 4th election Tuesday. Five weekends have gone. How many voters can you door-knock, anyway, on a weekend ? If you work seven hours on Saturday and seven on Sunday — Saturday night and Sunday morning aren’t wise times to door-knock — you can knock maybe 120 doors. (In Dorchester, houses are packed so closely together that, at least, you don’t have to walk much to go from one door to an other. it’s all right there for you.) Of those 120 doors, if you’re lucky there’ll be 60 people at home. Nine weekends of 60 voters means you’ve met 540 voters.

But 11,635 13th Suffolk votes were cast in last year’s mayor election…

So let’s say that of the 540 voters you meet, one of four commit to you — 135 votes — and of those, 15 agree to volunteer. The 15 each host you a coffee party, at which you might meet 25 people — of whom some won’t live in your District, while others you’ll already have met. Maybe of the 25 voters in the room, 15 can actually vote and are new to you. Why even bother ? Answer : because maybe 3 of those 15 will volunteer for the campaign, and, just as significant, the house party host, to get 25 people in her living room, will probably have sent out 250 invites, all of which publicize your name.

Of course in winter a snow blast can cancel that houseparty on you.  Oh well…Image

^ speaking intensely to listeners cool : “PJ” McCann at the Columbia/Savin Hill Civic association on a snowy night Monday

During the week, you can only door-knock from 6 pm to 8.30 pm, all of it in the dark. Some houses don’t have street numbers; on many that do have them, the numbers are hard to read in the dark. More time wasted on logistics — but you keep at it, and on each weekday night you can door-knock maybe 80 doors, meet 40 people, commit maybe 20 votes. It does add up, slowly. Each week, if all goes well, you commit 100 votes.

You warm your feet later. On March 5th.

Sounds somewhat good, all this one-at-a-time work : but it isn’t even that good, because every voter you meet is also meeting, or thinking about, your five rivals. Of these voters, only those who actually volunteer for your campaign are your votes for sure. Those who only commit verbally can end up going to one of your rivals. My rule of thumb is that each rival can take ten percent of your committed non-volunteer votes. If this rule of thumb holds, each week you only commit 50 votes on the weekdays and 67 each weekend. By March 4th, that totals 1,053 committed votes that do not go elsewhere.

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^ is going everywhere in a parka enough ? is shivering each snow gust with a hat on ? Dan Hunt intends to find out.

There’s also the weather. Many of the six have campaigned on snow days; but in the snow everything moves more slowly. The only advantage is that more people will actually be at home when you door-knock. You’re happy to have even that advantage, because in this kind of campaign there aren’t many advantages available.

If all goes well — and in campaigns much usually doesn’t — by March 4th you’ll have those 1,053 committed votes plus maybe another 500 who you’ve met here and there, out and about, or who’ve read your literature and like it, or whose best friend is supporting you. So now it’s time to get these 1,553 people actually to vote. Sounds easy, but it isn’t. In a special election, with nothing else happening, if two thirds of your voters vote, you have been graced by the election gods.

And what if there’s a nor’easter on voting day ? Unlike school, elections don’t get canceled. But I digress…

Will that number — 1,036 — be enough to win ? Probably not. In a District as politically attuned as Dorchester, there’ll be a substantial number of voters who vote simply because there’s an election happening; voters whose preferences none of the six knows. As many as 2,500 such voters can do their duty. You had better win a fat portion of them.

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^ warm among friends — but most times, handshaking in snow : Liam Curran says he “will not be out-worked”

My guess is that 1,850 votes wins the race. Maybe less, because as I see it today, there’s two strong candidates and two gaining strength rapidly. Even the fifth candidate is moving vigorously, knows how to campaign, and speaks eloquently about city life. The five candidates could end up winning 1,600 votes, 1,450, 1,350, 1,250, and 1,000 respectively. (The sixth candidate is running on stickers. Who knows how many will be counted ?) That’s a total of 6,650 votes — a large number for a special election in March, but par for the course in a neighborhood as politically energized as Dorchester. Energized by the indomitable campaigning love of those who, like Dorchester pols before them going way, way back, take to the streets, eateries, senior citizens groups, civic association meetings, and house party living rooms in search of elected office.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

#13TH SUFFOLK : DORCHESTER LOOKS FOR THE NEXT MARTY WALSH

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^ first into the race, and looking like the man to beat : Dan Hunt, at the Dorchester Board of Trade’s B2B event last night

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Having seen their State Representative elected Mayor, 24,286 voters (numbers from City of Boston Election department website) of the 13th Suffolk State Representative District are looking for the next Marty Walsh. Or at least the 11,358 voters who cast a ballot in the November Mayor election are looking. On March 4th they’ll find out just who that man will be.

They will be choosing among Liam P. Curran, Tony Dang, Gene Gorman, Dan Hunt, Paul L. “PJ” McCann Jr, and John K. O’Toole.

It isn’t quite that simple, and none of the six candidates says it, but the thought is there on everyone’s mind. Most of the six worked actively in Marty Walsh’s mayor campaign; most of their supporters worked in it too. And if there really can’t be another Marty Walsh, these activists definitely want their new Representative to command attention as Walsh did.

Most of these 11,358 voters would like the new Representative to be, like Walsh, a people person; always there to help; to knock on doors and meet voters one to one; to hang out locally in a favorite cafe or other eatery; and, almost certainly, to be a Union member or, if not that, very attentive to Union Labor matters. They would like the new Representative’s priorities to mirror Walsh’s : curbing urban violence, helping schools to close the achievement gap, advocating “transparency” in governance.

I say “most of these voters” because the race is somewhat complicated by the presence in this District of Quincy’s Ward 3, Precinct 3 (the North Quincy T station area) and because in the November election 2,727 of the District’s Boston voters chose John Connolly. In a close race –and I think the result will be close — these odd-men out voters, who are not looking for the next Marty Walsh, could make the difference. If they vote at all.

But now it’s time to asses the six. Which of them fits the bill best ?

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^ very like Marty Walsh : Liam Curran

Most like Marty Walsh : Liam P. Curran. He has a union Labor background, grew up in Walsh’s Little House neighborhood and St. Margaret Parish, and even looks a lot like how Walsh appeared at the time of his first campaign 17 years ago.

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^ his campaign is picking up and so is his speaking : John K. Toole at last night’s Dorchester Board of Trade event

Best speaker : three of the six rate highly. Liam P. Curran spoke eloquently and in detail at his campaign kick-off last night. But John K. O’Toole also spoke passionately and in detail, about local aid funding, at the Dorchester Board of Trade B2B night. and Gene Gorman, at his kickoff two weeks ago, spoke eloquently about being “Dorchester by choice’; and knowledgeably about housing and school transformation issues.

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^ John Connolly-type appeal in a Marty Walsh District : “PJ” McCann at his campaign kick off

Biggest visible support : John K. O’Toole had over 250 supporters — he says 283 — at his campaign kick off last week. “P J” McCann drew well over 200 supporters, as well, to his kick off on Tuesday night.

Most political clout : (1 ) Dan Hunt. He’s chairman of the ward 16 Democratic committee, was a State House aide, worked a significant role in the Walsh Mayor campaign, and has the support of City Clerk (and former Dorchester City Councillor) Maureen Feeney as well as many other activists well known to the political community. He’s also the son of Jim Hunt, who has for over 40 years been a political and neighborhood activist in Dorchester’s Pope’s Hill section. (2) Liam P. Curran, as a lawyer, worked in Boston City government as an Assistant Corporation Counsel, and ‘s brother in law is Chief of staff to Boston city Council President Bill Linehan. (3) “PJ” McCann’s Dad is a veteran BRA executive.

Union Labor support : ( 1 ) Liam P. Curran is a Local 223 laborers Union member. ( 2 ) John K. O’Toole is a member of the Plumbers Union and has the support of Harry Brett, its long time business agent. (3) Tony Dang, an MBTA Police officer, is probably a memeber of one of the several MBTA Unions.

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^ enthusiasm of the Marty Walsh kind : Liam Curran mobbed by supporters at his campaign kick-off at. the Blarney stone last night

Most enthusiasm : of course all six candidates command enthusiastic support, or they couldn’t be running. But I was struck by the intensity of Liam Curran’s support at his kick off last night. He drew only about 130 people, but they cheered his speech loudly and constantly, spirited like the go-get-’em, sports-fan crowds that I saw at Marty Walsh’s events. And sure enough, Mayor Walsh’s brother was there, very visible and very much a fan.

Geography : Advantage to “PJ” McCann the only candidate with an address in the Ward 13 part of the District, its spiritual core and the home base for each of the District’s last five representatives. Four of the candidates live in Ward 16 and will likely split its admittedly large vote. Gene Gorman lives in the larger of the District’s two Ward 17 Precincts, the Melville park neighborhood close by Codman Square.

The race grows intense now. Door-knocking has been going on all month, through snow and extreme cold. Nobody is at all tired. If anything, the young people who are doing most of the grunt work are warming to the tasks ahead : house signs, house parties, stand outs, phone calls, meet and greets, more door knocking — after all, they did all this for Marty Walsh, and they have the can-do, will-do feel of confident winners.

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^ probably behind in numbers, but an eloquent “new Bostonian” : Gene Gorman at the harp & Bard two weeks ago

So who do I think it will be ? I’ve done no polls, knocked on no doors, but from what I have seen — and reported to you in this column — I rate the six in this order as of today :

1. Dan Hunt — he has clout and longevity; also, he started by far the earliest, and that matters
2. PJ McCann — he has Ward 13 next to his name and a great resume
3. John K. O’Toole — has run before and is well known, but he hasn’t Ward 16 to himself and also waited a long time to decide to run
4. Liam P. Curran — he is maybe too much like Marty Walsh to build his own identity; still, he has the spirit behind him, a well-connected brother in law, and it will surely be known that Walsh’s brother supports him (and Walsh’s Mom, as reported by Dorchester News journo Gin Dumcius). Curran can rise, maybe a lot.
5. Gene Gorman — he isn’t native to Dorchester and lives in a corner of the District
6. Tony Dang — is running a sticker campaign, almost an impossibility

There’s a lot beginning to happen in this race that everybody politically attuned is watching. In two weeks I will update this report.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

NOTE : The presence of one Quincy voting precinct in the District boggles the mind. It’s also a very low turnout area. Of 1186 voters in the precinct, only 159 voted in Quincy’s Mayor election last year. Will even that few show up in this special election ? It’s absurd.

CORRECTION : An earlier version of ,my story identified Tony Dang as a Boston Police officer. He is in fact an MBTA Police officer.

OMG ! IN DORCHESTER : CARLOS HENRIQUEZ TO JAIL ; GENE GORMAN ON THE TRAIL

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^ not a good day for the 5th Suffolk’s Carlos Henriquez

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“OMG !” is how the website known as “buzzfeed” might put the big political news coming out of Dorchester yesterday. A jury in Medford found 5th Suffolk District Stater Representaive Carlos Henriquez guilty of two counts of assault and battery. After which the trial judge, Michele Hogan, sentenced Henriquez to two and a half years in the Middlesex House of Correction, six months to be served.

Henriquez was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, a photo seen by everyone who read today’s Globe or Herald.

I got the word via my twitter feed at about 3:00 PM. Immediately after came a report that Speaker Robert DeLeo requested Henriquez’s resignation; Governor Patrick and Mayor Walsh soon followed. Republican leaders repeated the call — eager to pile on. Would have been wiser had they said nothing.

Will Henriquez resign his office ? It looks simple, but it isn’t. The voters have a right to elect, even re-elect, a person convicted of a misdemeanor. My opinion is that Henriquez should do what his District’s voters want. If they want him to resign, resign. If they are OK with him representing him, no one else has any right to overstep things. I have not sampled opinion in his District, but Henriquez’s troubles have not gone unnoticed among the District’s activists, and he is sure to hear that many of them have had enough.

The many exchanges that I had with Henriquez during the recent Mayor campaign didn’t exactly inspire me. Before the primary, he was nowhere to be heard from; after Arroyo, Barros, and Golar-Richie endorsed Marty Walsh, however, and were joined by some others, Henriquez was suddenly an apostle for Walsh, furious in his intensity, all over twitter chanting Walsh’s praises, arguing at length with Connolly people whom he knew ; and almost all of what the suddenly converted Henriquez said was 100 percent standard Walsh talking point. Not one word from his own experience or observation of a man who, after all, was his state house colleague AND political neighbor. I did not exactly form a high impression of Henriquez’s perspicacity, or loyalty, or his ability to convince anyone of anything.

None of the above is a crime; and, truth be, it seems to me excessive to sentence to jail a man with no criminal record on a misdemeanor conviction. Probation is what we usually do, and rightly. We seek reformation, not retribution. Did Henriquez not receive the mediation that we accord most misdemeanor defendants because he is a legislator ?

That said, resignation seems likely; Speaker DeLeo will seek expulsion if Henriquez doesn’t resign. Of all the State representative openings that have occurred in Boston the past year — five so far, this would be a sixth ! — this one offers truly fascinating possibilities.

One : Charlotte Golar Richie once held this seat. Might she run for it again, regain the political currency that she lacked last year, and, with the backing of communities of color — who very much want a Mayor of color as soon as feasible — run against Walsh in 2017 ?

Two : John Barros also lives in the District and owns Cesaria, a very popular restaurant on Bowdoin Street. Might he run and win and then become a Mayor candidate in 2017 on the same grounds that I posited for Golar-Richie ?

As of 2011, the District included Ward 7 Precinct 10; Ward 8, Precincts 5 and 7; Ward 12, Precinct 6; Precincts 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 of Ward 13; all of Ward 15 except precinct 6; and Ward 17, Precinct 2. It seems made for Barros.

Of course, momentous possibilities may not come to pass. Both Golar-Richie and Barros campaigned exhaustingly last year. Both have the ear of Mayor Walsh. Who could blame them for not running for yet another office to possibly no great result ? The District does not lack for ambitious new names who will surely run. But whoever does run and win, one fact of the 5th Suffolk district stands out : low voter participation. In its 18 precincts, only 6547 people voted in the Mayor election — about 31 to 33 % of the total registration. Compare that to turnouts of 50 to 80 % in precincts where Walsh or Connolly held a base. Whoever the new 5th Suffolk representative is, he or she should make it a priority to engage the 2/3 of voters who didn’t respond to last year’s intense mayor campaign.

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^ better news, right next door, in the 13th Suffolk ; candidate Gene Gorman greets his supporters in Savin Hill

Meanwhile, the Dorchester State Rep seat that Mayor Walsh resigned, next door to the 5th, has a special election on tap; there are — it seems — six candidates in the race, and I attended a reception for one of them, Gene Gorman. The Harp & Bard, scene of many Dorchester political “times,” was plenty full at 7.30 Pm as Gorman, a first time candidate, spoke to the almost 100 people assisting. “Why are we here ?” asked Gorman, “Because we’ve embraced this idea of city life for a lifetime. it’s an important decision. Dorchester by choice.”

Gorman recounted how he, a North Carolina native who now teaches at Emerson College, moved to Savin Hill, because he chose to; and how, a few years ago, he and his wife decided “we wanted a little more room and so we found a house on Melville Park — in Dorchester still.” There, he said proudly, he “served on the governing board of the Robert Frost innovation school. They wanted to close it down. We parents protested , they kept it open, and now it’s a Level One school, one of the strongest performing schools in the whole system !”

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^ solid friends in “Dot” : Gene Gorman embraced by Jim and Millie Rooney — at the Harp & Bard on Savin hill Avenue

Gorman spoke of “progress and transformation” — John Connolly’s theme; and, as Gorman is one of the “new Bostonians” who Connolly’s campaign so appealed to, I almost expected to hear that Gorman had been a supporter. But no; he had volunteered for “Marty,” wrote policy papers for him, and served on Walsh’s Housing task Force during the Transition. Gorman has now resigned that work, to concentrate on the campaign. Judging from last night’s turn out and his own command of the effort, Gorman seems a serious contender even in a field boasting several candidates with major local clout.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere