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

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.