BOSTON MAYOR : A STUNNING SHIFT — AND WHAT PORTENDS ; THE CASINO PERPLEX

Image

^ New Boston versus a revolutionary “old Boston’ alliance : breakdown of Tuesday’s vote by WBUR

—-      —-      —-

Thanks to the superb interactive map posted by WBUR, my final article about the Boston mayor race that elected Marty Walsh two days ago is made simple. All of my readers should look at the WBUR map and study it. The whole story is in it.

But now to my final thoughts :

1.Marty Walsh achieved office by revolutionizing Boston’s political alliances.

Always heretofore, Boston’s communities of color had voted in alliance with the City’s patrician, high minded, urban reformers, based historically in Beacon Hill, Bay Village, and the Back Bay. This alliance was the core of the old Republican party grounded in Abolition, a GOP that has just about vanished from the scene. It had, until Tuesday, lived on strongly in Boston city politics, even though now entirely within the Democratic party, at least since the 2000 election.

Walsh succeeded at breaking this alliance. Though he won almost no votes among high minded urban reformers — Ward 5 (Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Bay Village) was his worst in the City, worse for him even than John Connolly’s home ward — Walsh won the City’s Wards of color decisively, every single one of them. (I can, in fact, find only one majority black precinct that Connolly carried : Fort Hill in Roxbury).

Never before in a city election had Boston’s wards of color voted with the City’s “old Irish’ wards of which Walsh is the epitome. An abyss of contention divided the two communities. To win one was almost to guarantee losing the other. Attempts were made; but none succeeded as did Walsh’s work. The divide transcended party. Walsh’s base is the most Republican-voting part of Boston, the wards of color the most Democratic. Yet on Tuesday the two areas joined up to give Walsh his unprecedented win.

Of course the Republican votes of today’s South Boston and “Irish” Dorchester are completely different from the Republican votes of forty, sixty, 100 years ago. This is pro-life, socially conservative Republicanism, not Abolition and high-minded reform. And of course, the voters of color who moved their wards to Walsh aren’t the old, high-minded, enterprising, church-based descendants of Abolition and reform; they are union workers and those who seek to be. And of course, that is the connection : it was union labor politics that has brought the two communities together — an achievement that Marty Walsh can claim as his unique contribution. I seriously doubt that any other labor union politician could have done it. None is trusted as profoundly as is Walsh, both within union politics and without.

2. High-minded urban reform is far from defeated; indeed, it is Boston’s fastest growing political movement.

Led by John Connolly, who practically created the new version of it by his campaign, high-minded, urban reform all but captured City hall on its first try. The movement forged a base more solid than even Walsh’s and moved to its side one part — Charlestown — of the old “Irish” Boston that would have once been Walsh’s for the taking. And in fact, though a smaller achievement numerically than Walsh’s, the move of Charlestown into the urban reform camp proved just as formidable. Only Ward 5 and one other ward of the City produced a larger percentage increase in voter turnout from the primary. (More about that ward later.)

The new urban reform movement — “NURM,” let us call it — with its agenda of school transformation, enterprise innovation, bicycles and parks, public safety, and the importance of listening to those who are crying out — has firmly taken hold of all of the Downtown core of Boston : ( 1 ) Chinatown ( 2 ) the Waterfront (3) the Seaport (4) the North End (5) all of the South End, including its extension beyond Massachusetts Avenue into what used to be called “Lower Roxbury” and (6) all of Ward 5. And, as I said, Charlestown too.

Add to this the half of East Boston from Day Square to the Harbor; Jamaica Plain west of the Orange Line; Allston and almost all of Brighton; and a strong majority of West Roxbury and a smaller but still majority of Roslindale, and you have a significant voting bloc. And please note : NURM Boston is growing, while the areas in Marty Walsh’s coalition are receding. Case in point : that Fort Hill precinct. Roxbury is changing. it is becoming more entrepreneurial, racially mixed, socially connected to itself. Four years from now — eight, twelve — much of Roxbury will be voting with the South End. The same can be said of South Boston. From primary to final, John Connolly improved his percentage of the vote in the South Boston precincts closer to the Seaport. Four to 12 years from now much of South Boston will be voting like the Seaport, not against it.

Entrepreneurs both white and Black were the vanguard of John Connolly’s urban reform voting bloc. They weren’t just donors to his funds. They took leadership roles on the front lines of getting votes. from Greg Selkoe to Darryl Settles, Clayton Turnbull to BostInno, Akrobatik to Phil Frattaroli, business innovators fought and often won the battle, in a way that I had not seen since the late 1960s.

Their numbers will grow. I suspect too that so will their front line activism.

Image

^ the Hyde park part of ward 18 : where the Connolly campaign was beaten

3. Ward 18 proved decisive, although it needn’t have.

The Connolly campaign got out-manoeuvered badly in ward 18 — 75,000 people, the largest ward in the City : all of Hyde Park and Mattapan and a part of Roslindale — and ended up losing every one of its 23 precincts.

Granted that none of Ward 18 is “new Boston” in any way, it was not at all assured to Marty Walsh.

Connolly’s problems in the ward began early. Because he announced his campaign while it still looked as if Tom Menino — who lives in ward 18 and was once its District Councillor — would run again, Connolly accorded the ward a lesser priority. Then, when Menino announced that he would not be running again, the area’s current Councillor, Rob Consalvo, stepped up. In the final, the area’s State Representative, Angelo Scaccia, endorsed Marty Walsh, along with several other local political leaders. And John Connolly ? He concentrated his effort so aggressively on the wards of color that, somehow, the power part of Ward 18 got back-burnered.

It should never have been thus. How can you plan to run for Mayor, even against a ward 18 man, and not assemble a ward 18 team early on ? Angelo Scaccia is not all-conquering. He has had many very close elections in his long career. So yes, you talk to Chris Donato, who almost defeated Scaccia not too many years ago. And yes, you pay a visit to Pat Tierney up on Fairmount Hill; you ask if her famous actress daughter Maura Tierney will consider doing a video in support of you. You go to Maureen Costello, Jack Scully, Paul Loconte, Bill Sinnott, Brad White, John Grady, Bill Broderick Jr., Tony Ferzoco, Al Thomas, Tim Lowney, Donny at the Bowling Alley, Joseph Pulgini (who ended up with Walsh, early too) — all whom I respected back in the day; probably I am missing many — and you say, “OK, I understand that you might not be with me if Tom runs but if he doesn’t run, are you with me ?” You do it early and you do it aggressively. And maybe many of the people I have named don’t join you; but some will. So, you build a team in the City’s largest Ward and you keep on building it.

John Connolly may have done some or even all of the above. But I saw no evidence of it. Connolly did, after the Primary, bring to his side Dave Vittorini, Councillor Consalvo’s aide; and Vittorini knows tons of people; but this was the Charlotte Golar-Richie situation all over again : the candidate’s workers went to Connolly, but the candidate him or herself either went to Walsh or stayed neutral.

Little wonder that Vittorini’s efforts were not at all enough to dent Marty Walsh’s Ward 18 campaign. Walsh brought Congressman Mike Capuano all the way from Somerville to Hyde Park to do his endorsement press conference. The Ward’s many BTU people — who loved Consalvo’s “the BTU agenda is my agenda” message — chose Walsh, of course. Thus it came about that on Tuesday Marty Walsh won ward 18 by at least 12 points. Won every precinct of it.

And now to the casino vote. Ward 1 — East Boston — almost doubled its primary vote total as 7324 voters cast casino yea or nay ballots. The nays had it. How was this possible ? How did a majority of people vote against jobs and money ? Who organized and paid for the “no casino’ campaign ?

The answer should be as obvious as the bad breath of a wino. Steve Wynn did it. I have no proof; nor do I need any. It was hugely in Wynn’s interest not to have a possible contending casino applicant right next door to his planned Everett casino — overwhelmingly approved by Everett voters. It would be malpractice for Wynn NOT to fund a “no casino” campaign in East Boston and, I have no doubt, to promise its organizers that there will be lots of juicy jobs in his Everett casino if the East Boston vote went to the “no” side. As it did.

Tuesday was a very very good day for Steve Wynn. Very good indeed.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR FINAL : THE CONNOLLY CAMPAIGN

Image

^ “the next mayor has to come in dedicated to bridging the equity gap” — John Connolly speaking at a huge rally in Jamaica Plain tonight

—- —- —-

NOTE : Here and Sphere has endorsed John Connolly for Mayor. I’ve done my best to be objective in this report. You decide.

Two weeks ago, as Marty Walsh struggled to become something other than “the union giuy” and as John Connolly began to amass a large and diverse war chest of people and money, it looked as if the November result would be not close. The prospect looks different now. Walsh found a way to change the conversation — instead of “the union guy” he is now “the progressive tribune of workers’ rights” — and four major Boston politicians of color (three of them former Mayor candidates) have endorsed him, with more such to come soon. Which has forced Connolly to change HIS conversation too.

Until Walsh’s change began to show itself, Connolly had been “the education candidate.” As Boston public schools are by far the largest and most expensive city function, and as there are some 57,000 Boston Public School parents, being “the education candidate” seemed a shrewd choice. It was. It got him into the November Final. But being the education candidate is no longer big enough, and Connolly has had to expand his message hugely.

It has taken him two weeks to do so. I think that he has been stunned, after all the years of bold outreach to Black Bostonians (less apparently so to Boston’s Hispanics), to watch as one after another Black politician endorses his opponent. Yes, his campaign kept on reaping that outreach; yes, it has won him many endorsements by Black religious leaders and by some political action committees. In particular, almost the entire campaign apparatus of Charlotte Golar-Richie joined his campaign, and some supporters of John Barros as well, even a few supporters of Felix Arroyo. But his campaign to Boston’s communities of color has proved much harder than seemed likely a month ago, and Connolly has had to change his approach. I think this has saddened him; one hears it in his remarks. I don’t think he is happy to compass winning by the votes of upscale white people. It’s not what he spent years preparing to be.

as he worked to speak to the changed electoral landscape, Connolly’s speeches stayed close to the education theme. But then came the big break-through : almost the entire leadership of Boston’s “Italian” wards came aboard his campaign. And though the endorsers talked not about issues specific to their neighborhoods — no bread and butter city administration stuff — but about better schools, in speeches that often sounded canned, a smile returned to Connolly’s cheeks and an excitement to his voice.

The endorsements of Connolly by Councillor Marc Ciommo, former Councilo candidate Philip Frattaroli, State Senator Sal DiDomenico, former Councillor Paul Scapicchio, North End State Representative Aaron Michlewitz, and — most importantly of all — by Councillor Sal LaMattina (East Boston State Representative Carlo Basile had early on joined the Connolly side) strengthened Connolly’s hand considerably. He was no longer just the candidate of mostly white young techies and concerned publiic school moms. News came of a fundraiser hosted by said Carlo Basile at which, it was said, $ 100,000 was donated to the Connolly brand. At the same time another fundraiser, by Roslindale real estate developer Vinnie Marino — said to be very close to Mayor Menino — raised yet further funds, and it was announced that Connolly had imbibed a whopping $ 610,000 total during the two weeks just ended.

This turned many heads. What the turned heads now s aw — and heard — was a Connolly on wide angle. Jobs — he said “careers” — safe neighborhoods, all of us connected to one an other, it was all part of his new speech. In the First Debate, on Tuesday night, the new, confident, bold Connolly was on full display as, in a voice pitched high and somewhat melodic — his passion voice =– he spoke of education, certainly ( and often ) but even more masterfully about city finances, revenue, union contracts, and budgets. Suddenly listeners saw not “the education mayor” but the Master of City Money. At many turns in the city finances discussion he had Walsh on the ropes.

This was a surprise to me — probably to many. At numerous Mayor Forums and at “Mondays with Marty” I had heard Walsh speak authoritatively about many city issues and, of course, State House legislation. Less so at the First Debate. He seemed cautious — as well he might be after Connolly’s revelation of a bill that Walsh has filed, five times, to take away from City Councils the power to review labor arbitrators’ contract awards. For that revelation has been at least as significant in moving Connolly beyond being a mere “education Mayor” as any other move he has made or that has been made on his behalf. At the Debate, Walsh could not escape its implications. the mire that moderator Jon Keller asked city budget questions, the ,more that Walsh’ s union-friendly legislation came to mind.

But at street level, Connolly’s attack on Walsh’s labor legislation has opened him to accusations by Walsh supporters that he is “not a progressive,” maybe even a “Mitt Romney in Robert Kennedy words,” as one notable Walsh spokesman said. That the attack has hurt was seen tonight when, at a huge rally in Jamaica plain, Connolly said “I’m sick of being told I’m not a progressive ! Giving a good education to every child in the city, that IS progressive !”

It was a superb speech, the best i have heard Connolly give. He spoke of careers; of “bridging the equity gap”; of the City being “two different cities, one safe, one unsafe.” He made fun of himself. He talked of his teaching career (“despite what you see about me on the internet, yes, I was a teacher,” he grinned.) He talked of restaurants and liquor licenses; of streamlining the city bureaucracy; and, yes, of school reform in all its details including, pointedly, a longer school day. The crowd cheered him; cheered each of his points — and well they ought, because he stated them with a clarity I had yet to hear him bring so much of. He sounded less the slogan-eer, more like… a Mayor. It was a speech just that commanding, pitched perfectly at his fan base of upscale young urbanites and concerned school parents.

Image

^ the Mayor of upscale young urbanites and concerned school parents greets his voters at tonight’s Jamiaca Plain rally

This speech, along with his campaign tactics talks (brimming with insight and laughs) to supporters at donation gatherings, bring Connolly a conversation changed utterly. It’s big presence, a podium persona. Can Walsh raise his game to this level ? we shall soon find out.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE 2ND MONTH STARTS

Boston Mayor 2013 – candidates of color

Whether 15 candidates qualify for the Primary ballot or some number less, it looks as though there’ll be far too many aspirants presenting themselves to Boston voters for anyone but political junkies to even know all the names, much less what they’re about.

Meanwhile, the primary vote, which will eliminate all but two candidates, takes place less than four months from now. This puts a premium on long connection; and long connection favors the most stable city communites. Hello, East Boston, much of Charlestown, Southie, South Dorchester; upper Roxbury, Readville, Fairmount Hill,Moss Hill,  White City, West Roxbury, Roslindale, Brighton; see ya, Allston, Fenway, Back bay, downtown, the South End, Mission Hill, north Dorchester (Blue Hill Avenue), Mattapan, and much of Jamaica Plain.

To put it on political junkie terms, Hello wards 1, half of Ward 2, 6,7, 12, 16, 18, 19, 22, and 20; see ya, most of Wards 3 and 5 and almost all of Wards 4, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, and 21.

Given the huge field, those candidates who can add any significant bloc to his or her long connected base has a huge leg up in this situation. It can be a geographic bloc, an interest group — labor union, especially — or an “issues constituency.” So far, Dan Conley — presently Suffolk County District attorney — leads the issues campaign with two strong agenda points: gun control ordinances and a citywide casino vote. Meanwhile State Rep Martin J. Walsh and Councillors John R Connolly, Rob Consalvo, and Felix G Arroyo seem to be harvesting voters blocs outside their respective “base.” Arroyo has strong union support; Martin Walsh, the backing of progressive Jamaica Plain state Rep. Liz Malia; John Connolly, dots of strength all over the city. Rob Consalvo, an opening to East Boston, partly resulting from Dan Conley’s rejection of an East Boston-only casino vote.

As for Charlotte Golar Richie, currently an official in Governor Patrick’s administration, she has garnered significant bloc support outside her own base and also demonstrated an effective street-level campaign by collecting some 8,100 nomination signatures.

None of the above successes by these contenders should surprise. Conley, Consalvo, Connolly, Arroyo, Walsh, and Richie are the obvious leaders of the pack. Campaigns often reveal the “obvious leaders” to not be as leading as the common wisdom expected; in this election, the common wisdom so far has it right.

What of the other names that will surely be on the ballot ? Who is going to be voting for Bill Walczak, John F. Barros, John G. Laing, David G. Portnoy, Charles L. Clemons — and City Councillor Charles Yancey, if he runs ? And how about City Councillor Mike Ross, who by all measures looks less vote-getting than the six “majors” ? It’s hard to say what they will do, but one factor we know : all come from the 70% of the ciy that is “new Boston.” None of these other candidates, except possibly Bill Walczak, who is well known in the stretch of Dorchester between the Polish-American Club on Boston street and Codman Square — is likely to draw even a soupcon number of votes from the “traditional” candidates Walsh, Connolly, Conley, and Consalvo. To the extent that these “extra six” (or seven) candidates hurt anyone, it will be Arroyo and Richie.

Turnout will be a factor. With so many mayor hopefuls joined by a large crowd of candidates or city council, it would surprise few if 40% to 50% of Boston voters — say 125,000 to 160,000 — show up at the polls in September.

Supporters — including this writer — of “new Boston” finally having its turn to elect a mayor may not like this prospect. Not to worry: in recent years, turnout among people of color has risen sharply, in some cases surpassing the turnout percentage of “traditional” voters. There seems scant reason for a “new Boston’ candidate to feel bearish about who will vote in September. The major hurdle will be to convince “new Boston” voters that a “new Boston’ candidate can actually win . Candidates perceived as winnable generate much larger voter participation than candidates sen as losing.

So, can a “new Boston” hopeful win ? Yes, most definitely so.  Clearly Arroyo or Golar Richie have all that it takes to win the entire prize.

The only way that neither Arroyo and Richie get into the “final,’ as this writer sees it, is if they divide the “new’ vote fairly evenly while one or more of the “traditionals” generate a large voter turn out from their bases.

This outcome could happen. For example, there’s no candidate from South Boston. No region of the city turns out voters as numerously as Wards 6 and 7. Trust me: 8,000 votes in the “primary” from South Boston would surprise no one. If a “traditional” can dominate these 8,000 votes — nobody expects a “new Boston” candidate to do that — added to his base, he will surely win the “primary” and gather strong further support for the “final.”

It is THAT prospect that Walsh, Connolly, and Conley, especially, as Irish-name candidates, are now fighting for. It is why on April 30th, when Southie participated in electing a new State Senator for the First Suffolk District, Dan Conley spent the day greeting voters at Southie polling places. South Boston will get plenty of candidate attention during this next month.

But so will Mission Hill, the South End, Back Bay, and the new Downtown, Navy yard, and Seaport.  A gold mine number of voters — at least 40,000 total, in wards 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9 — resides here, many of them high income, highly educated — exactly the sort of motivated and progressive voters that any “new Boston’ candidate shares political DNA with. All that’;s needed is for “hew Boston” candidates and “new Boston” voters to find each other.

That is what the month of June will surely be about in the heart of our City.

After that, the campaign changes. It spreads out, putting a premium on large organizational effort. Many Boston people go to Cape Cod for the summer or on every summer weekend. Candidates will almost certainly be seen meeting and greeting at Falmouth happy hours, Hyannis lawn parties, and Dennis clam shacks. Sign holders will line the Sagamore and Bourne bridges and the sides of routes 28 and 6. Meanwhile, other volunteers will be canvassing stay-at-homes in the more voter- accessible neighborhoods, shaking hands at senior citizen centers, greeting revelers at outdoor festivals, and phone-banking the less accessible. Campaigns’ social media overseers will be working overtime. Here too, chance favors the “major” candidates. “Their” voters are used to seeing mayors and mayor hopefuls all the time and know who is who and who isn’t.

Enormously so. But that’s for July and August. Meanwhile there’s June, a month of campaigning everywhere inside the Boston city limits during which a last pre-primary effort will be made to reach out and touch voters not yet committed to, or even focused on, any candidate. Expect agenda announcements galore and the beginning of what will eventually be an avalanche of “key’ endorsements.

———- Michael Freedberg, “Here and Sphere”