BOSTON MAYOR RACE : WHAT THE THREE POLLS TELL US

Image

^ John Connolly : the school issue is his and very possibly the election

—- — —

You’ve all seen the three new polls published on Boston’s Mayor campaign. (If you haven’t seen them, go look.) Taken together, they show the following percents of vote for the top nine contenders :

Connolly at 14 to 16
Walsh at 10 to 12
Conley at 8 to 12
Golar-Richie at 10
Arroyo at 6 to 8
Consalvo at 6 to 8
Barros at 3 to 6
Walczak at 4 to 6
Ross at 5
Undecided : 19 to 22

There isn’t, or shouldn’t be, much doubt about what these numbers tell us :

1. John Connolly will be in the Final. He appears very much in command of the race. School transformation is his issue, it’s the voters’ number one issue too, and he articulates his agenda for schools with authority, detail, conviction, and a convincing tie-in to the other two major issues, jobs and public safety. His field organization — “ground game” in this campaign’s argot — is broadly based, in very diverse communities of the city, and well versed in what field organizations are supposed to in a primary : get out the vote. Plus, his Mom’s from Charlestown. That, dear readers, is authenticity.

photo (4)

^ Marty Walsh : the voice of Urgency

2. Marty Walsh should be in the Final, because his issue is a clear alternative one to Connolly’s : keeping the construction boom going in Boston — and expanding its reach, because it furthers economic development and creates good jobs. Unfortunately for Walsh, his issue is a smaller one than Connolly’s. There are 58,000 public school parents in Boston and lots more who would be public school parents if they could perceive the city’s public schools as good enough. There are far fewer than 58,000 construction jobs in city. The particularity of Walsh’s vision threatens to keep him out of second place — more on that below; but, fortunately for his chances, he is backed by a field organization as large as Connolly’s (and maybe larger) and passionately dedicated to this campaign’s “candidate of Urgency.”

It also helps that he is a true son of Boston’s land of on-street parking and rows of three deckers. That, dear readers, is grit and lumber !

Image

^ Dan Conley : administrative reform may not be sexy enough to win a spot in the final

3. Dan Conley might edge past Walsh to the second spot because as Suffolk County District Attorney (and former District 5 Councillor) he is already a proven city-wide administrator who speaks in authoritative detail — and with conviction — about the reforms he would bring to city administration, the police and fire departments most of all. He has tons of money and a field organization as dependable — if less passionate or diverse — as Walsh’s. His problem is that city administration reform isn’t an issue that hits voters where they live, as do schools and jobs. A Mayor can always hire an administrative reformer.

photo (37)

^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : political history is her mother earth

4.Charlotte Golar-Richie has risen in the polls. She now contends. This she has done by dint of being the only woman in the candidate list — something she rarely neglects to mention — and the most prominent of color. This is, oddly, a candidate of identity politics, a winner 30 and 40 years ago but probably not today. Voters of color give her strong backing, but by no means overwhelming. Today they want results, not image. Golar-Richie is also hindered by her forensics. At Forums and on the stump she sometimes articulates a vision, sometimes not. Even at her best the vision seems flavorless — a less punitive version of Conley’s “I Will Reform City Administration.” Uneven articulation of mild reform excites no one, and thus Golar-Richie’s field organization — and her voters — seem lacking the necessary force to “get out the vote” on Primary day. That is why she polls in fourth place.

UPDATE : as expected, Golar-Richie today received endorsement by State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and state Rep. Russell Holmes. BUT … State Rep. Byron Rushing endorsed Felix Arroyo….

Image

^ Particularist candidates ; Felix arroyo (above) and Rob Consalvo

5.Felix Arroyo and Rob Consalvo seem matched pairs. as Consalvo’s poll has declined, Arroyo’s has increased. They now poll the same. Each has the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) endorsement. Each man has a campaign theme that no rival encroaches upon : Arroyo’s theme is a “pathway out of poverty,” through full-day schools to jobs which, with union organization behind them, can pay well. (Arroyo never fails to mention how as an organizer of janitors, he got their pay boosted from $ 9.00 an hour with no benefits to $ 16,.00 an hour with full benefits.) He also talks “invest in Boston,’ a program — just now voted favorably by the City Council — to require banks in which the City keeps its money (a billion dollars) to invest in Boston businesses. Consalvo, meanwhile, has taken to being the BTU’s voice on school reform, an agenda quite unlike Connolly’s, one which takes the risky position of defending Boston Public school performance. The problem for both men, and why they poll at only 6 to 8 percent, is that the voters either do not agree (Consalvo) or are to narrow a constituency (Arroyo) to get either candidate close to a second place Primary finish. Limited visions with limited constituencies may well exhibit great passion ; both Consalvo and Arroyo have that from their supporters. But a passionate vote counts no more than a coolly reflective one, just as the keys on a laptop only punch one letter at a time no matter how hard your finger hits them.

photo (50)

^ Brilliance : Mike Ross (and John Barros) speak vividly of tomorrow. But the elect is today.

6. Mike Ross and John Barros poll lower still. The two men are the brightest and most progressive visionaries of all the candidates. No one speaks more eloquently. None has a surer grasp of what city life will be tomorrow. So what is the problem ? First, neither man leads a large constituency. Ross’s Back Bay / Beacon Hill / Mission Hill District has little in common, economically or culturally, with the rest of the City. Barros is a hero to the denizens of Dudley Square, which the organization that he founded has revitalized; to the citizens of Uphams’ Corner, where he lives; and to Boston’s Cape Verdean community. But even if you add up all three of Barros’s bases, it’s small potatoes compared to the city as a whole. And this is his first race ever for elected office.

7.The 19 % undecided. It’s still the largest number of any in the three polls. theoretically it’s large enough to anoint or eliminate anyone. That will not happen. undecided voters do one of the following : ( a ) not vote at all ( b ) vote for a perceived winner, because they know him or her best anyway or ( c ) decide on the issues, among several who they are considering. The first group doesn’t count. The second trends to John Connolly. the third will likely divide in many directions. My guess is that the undecideds won’t change the current poll very much. They’ll simply fatten its numbers.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE FIGHT FOR VOTES

Connolly Walsh 1

^ The top two continue to be the top two.

—- —- —

Yesterday was a holiday, Labor Day.

Oh really ? Not for the serious candidates for Mayor, it wasn’t. They knocked on doors, stood out at supermakets meeting and greeting, held fund-raiders, made speeches. Still, it wasn’t as simple as that. There was method in their movements. they “worked their base.”

Marty Walsh, who has made every effort in this campaign to live up to his being a “son of labor,” gave a declaration-of-agenda speech at the Greater Boston Labor Council’s annual labor day breakfast.

Felix Arroyo, who has campaigned as tribune of the city’s needy, outlined his “pathways out of poverty” in a speech to public housing residents in South Boston.

John Connolly, of West Roxbury, greeted shoppers for ten hours at Roche Brothers on Centre street.

Charlotte Golar-Richie firmed up her support among the City’s old-line Black leadership.

Dan Conley schmoozed with a fellow District Attorney.

Rob Consalvo, of Hyde Park, held a huge bash in…Hyde Park.

photo (20)

^ Felix Arroyo : is his “base” big enough ? Will it turn out in big enough numbers ?

That these folks campaigned to their “base” is no mistake. With three weeks left until Primary Day, and at least sevEn potential winners running, the time for Mayor hopefuls to campaign all across Boston has ended. They’d be kidding themselves if not. By now, the voters who are going to actually vote on September 24th have gotten to know many of the serious candidates fairly well. they probably like several. But a candidate can’t settle for being liked along with others. It is time now to assure the votes of those who know the candidate best — to “bank” them (as we used to say; and to keep those votes away from all rivals. That means visiting the “base” a lot now — again and again.

Still, no candidate with a serious chance of making it to the November final can afford to forget voters not in his or her “base.” Second-choice votes may well make the difference between making it to November and not. Consider, too, that even the two finalists will likely not get more than 20% of the Primary vote. Which means that the ultimate winner in November will owe a majority of his November vote to people who did NOT vote for him or her in the Primary. A serious candidate must work to become many voters’ second choice even now, before they will actually vote for that candidate. Fascinating !

Working for second-choice votes requires a candidate to not get too narrow with his or her theme. Narrow themes, like Bill Walczak’s “no casino” mantra, may win some first-choice votes, but they don;t sow many second-choice seeds. (Example : Mel King in 1983. He voiced the far left’a agenda as stridently as today’s Tea voices the far right.. Far left purism got King to the final but guaranteed his November defeat.) Several of the candidates in this Primary have voiced narrow themes, though none so stridently as King in 1983.

We have talked of a candidate’s “base.” What of their count ? At this point, the candidates’ bases can be counted with some confidence :

Marty Walsh has the largest base : organized Labor — to the extent that its members live in the City ; many don’t — and much of Dorchester, a strong showing in South Boston, and no less than second in Charlestown.

John Connolly has the next largest base : school reform-minded parents — and West Roxbury-Roslindale, which by itself will likely total 10 % of the city’s primary vote.

Consalvo Mayor

Rob Consalvo : loss of vision or clarity ?

All of the other candidates all have problems gathering a base big enough to measure up to Connolly or Walsh. There is, actually no way that Conley, Arroyo, Golar-Richie, Ross, or Consalvo can win the Primary on base votes only. Each draws significantly from the others — less so from Walsh and Connolly, because Walsh and Connolly are now perceived by many voters as likely to win the Primary; and voters who like one or both of Walsh and Connolly, as well as some of the other contenders, would defy voting behavior were they to vote for someone they perceive as not likely to win.

Of all the candidates trying to catch Connolly or Walsh, the one who has the strongest chance is Golar-Richie. As the only woman in the race, she has unique appeal to Boston voters, most of whom are female. Arroyo must win to nhis side many voters who do not often vote in City Primaries. Consalvo needs to find a campaign rationale. Dan Conley suffers from simply being too much like Connolly or Walsh in outlook and image. As for Mike Ross, he doesn’t have a message that resonates much beyond Downtown life.

photo (47)

^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : do not count her out. And if she makes it to November…..

For Walsh and Connolly, the task now is to speak broad themes, inclusive themes, and look as well as talk as Boston’s visionary and also ambassador to the entire economic world. They must talk big in magnet words and make voters look to a brighter day.

The chasers need to attack the leaders, question their themes, dispute their ability to do what they say they will do — and to show how they, the chasers, can do the big stuff better.

Soon we will see if they can do that.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : CONNOLLY RECOVERS NICELY; WALSH FOCUSES; THE FIELD GETS SOME MOJO

Image

^ John Connolly : what schools flap ?  — here he is in East Boston

—- —- —-

We will admit it : we didn’t think that John Connolly would be able to surmount the huge flap over a $ 500,000 “outside” money dump that that smothered his campaign. But he has.

We thought sure that his schools agenda would look less reformist, — as a result of his being gifted by Stand for Children, an Oregon-based advocacy group debunked by some for relying hugely on corporate money of a seriously regressive sort — than insidious. For about three quarters of a day, it looked like we had it right.

But then, in less than an evening, Connolly struck back, fully. Supporters rallied to his side — publicly and unreservedly. He touted his “green-ist” credentials as the campaign voice of Boston’s “park people.” Big-name Democrats like Ian Bowles stepped up.  And he rejected the $ 500,000 for once and all, in a statement that left little doubt that he was quite angry at being ambushed by a group purporting to support his candidacy.

How effective was Connolly’s response ? Rival Dan Conley congratulated him on rejecting the money. THAT good.

Connolly also benefitted by an over-reaction by Felix G. Arroyo, who not only touted his support for Boston Teachers (and their Union, the BTU),which was OK, but then proceeded to assert that as Mayor he would work to eradicate poverty in Boston. Oh really ?

So here we are, on August 22nd, with a Mayoral Forum, taking place tonight at the newly re-steepled white church on Dorchester Center Hill, and 32 days left before Primary Day, and all is back on course. What WERE we thinking ?

Yes, a few doubts linger about Connolly’s commitment to school reform that isn’t a corporate take-over. You can see the doubts in his Twitter feed. But he is confronting the doubters, indeed, allowing their doubting tweets to stand in his Twitter list for all to read. this is a smart move.

Image

^ Marty Walsh on L Street : pressing some Wards 6 and 7 flesh and moving on up

Meanwhile, in South Boston, Marty Walsh is taking care of some unattended business. Last night former Senator Jack hart co[-hosted a huge party for him; during the day, Walsh greeted voters along L Street. Jon Connolly has cozied big-time up to South Boston’s State Representative, Nick Collins. Bringing Jack Hart into play allowed Walsh to send Connolly a message — and one to Coll;ins as well. It has always seemed sure that the strongly labor-backed Walsh would dominate in South Boston, but lately that primacy has come into doubt. Today there seems less doubt in play.

The Walsh campaign moves ahead to another neighborhood where support from his fellow State Representative has eluded him : East Boston. In this case, the legislator (Carlo Basile) has actually endorsed a rival. So, on Monday Walsh will host a “Mondays with Marty” in East Boston. It will be interesting to see who and how many come to hear him speak.

Image

^ Rob Consalvo : neighborhood schools. In Kenmore Square ?

The rest of the Mayor race’s bigger hopefuls seem finally to have found their stride. was it the Connolly flap that tweaked them ? It seems so. Many of his rivals suddenly became advocates for neighborhood schools (Consalvo), or opponents of charter school increases (Ross), or voices for public school teachers and the under-performing schools (Arroyo). Golar-Richie pushed a women’s safety agenda — significant certainly,l in light of the murder of Amy Lord, not to mention the killing, in nearby Waltham, allegedly by Jared Remy — Jerry Remy’s son — of his girlfriend.

Image

^ Charlotte Golar Richie in the North End,. with St. Rep. Aaron Michlewitz.

Connolly also launched his first television ads. So has Consalvo. Marty Walsh probably has them running also, though we haven’t yet seen any.

Every night now, Boston voters have a vast choice of campaign events to drop in on, or events of their own for candidates to appear at (for us at Here and Sphere too). Every day there’s a meet-and-greet — or three, or five — going on somewhere in the City. It’s all out sprint time, indeed a typhoon of sprints, as the campaign approaches the first week of September and all that that portends for political weather.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Meranwhile, top rioval marty walsdh is tak

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE STRATEGY OF FELIX G. ARROYO

Image

^ Felix G. Arroyo at the Dominican Parade. (photo by Eroc Arroyo-montano)

With only 35 days remaining before the September primary, Boston’s candidates for mayor had better be presenting — or mirroring — a really Big Story or they have no chance of finishing in the top two.  John Connolly’s Big story is being the “education Mayor.” Marty Walsh’s big theme is “Boston’s construction boom, its businesses and laborers.”

Only one other candidate seems to have a really big Story in hand: Felix G. Arroyo. His story appears a social-issue, left-leaning one. He is pushing to be THE candidate of Hispanics, of committed left-leaning labor, and of the lesbian, gay, and transgender communities. Given Boston’s overwhelmingly left-leaning, socially progressive voting record, Arroyo’s big story makes election sense. Of course it’s the only story available to him, given Connolly’s and Walsh’s dominance of the other two big Boston stories. Yet Arroyo has surely not chosen this path because there was no other for him. His life bio almost dictates it. His father, Felix D. Arroyo, achieved major political success in Boston by winning to his side almost all of the Left and building upon it. Arroyo junior would have been ill-advised not to have followed his Father’s successful — and well remembered — course.

That said, Arroyo junior’s story line confronts obstacles that Walsh’s and Connolly’s don’t. First, the election for mayor is not a national election in which Presidential and Congressional issues command the voter. Boston’s Mayor ballot doesn’t even list political parties — and in fact eleven of the 12 candidates are Democrats, including all of Arroyo’s major rivals.

Second, because social issues do not divide Boston as they do the nation — almost all Boston voters are socially progressive and look favorably upon organized labor — it is NOT Arroyo versus everybody else. Connolly has significant support from the constituencies that Arroyo needs, and even Marty Walsh, supported by openly gay State Representative Liz Malia, has a flag planted in the socially liberal camp too.

Third, the issues in a Mayor election don’t fall neatly into progressive against conservative. Trash collection, casino development, the BRA, school improvement, snow removal, traffic issues, and zoning have their own dynamic. The Mayor administers the city; he does not legislate wages, labor union rights, abortion, or pay equity. He is a bureaucrat, not a preacher to the nations.

There is no progressive or conservative way run a Boston city budget. The voters demand services, and that is that. These have to be paid for, and they are. And though yes, the Mayor can set a socially progressive tone, or not, and establish strong outreach to LGBT people, or not, no one is going to be elected Mayor this year who isn’t completely committed to social progressivism.

Lastly, few voters in a city election want to vote for a candidate who looks unable to win. The perception that Arroyo is not likely has already cost him a union endorsement and is likely to move voters favorably disposed to him to give him more kudos than votes.

I am not saying that Arroyo can’t get past the Primary; there is a large enough “new Boston” vote that indeed he can. Yet even as a “new Boston,” he is cornered. Its vote is by no means mostly his. Charlotte Golar Richie and, it appears, both Mike Ross and John Barros will have significant support therefrom — support that for the most part could be Arroyo’s were Ross, Golar-Richie, and Barros not in the race. But they are.

I make one final observation : Arroyo’s campaign story reminds us of Mel King’s themes in 1983. King, too, was a candidate of the Left — the very far Left. in 1983, being far Left got King into the final. But King was the only far Left candidate — and the only candidate of color — running in 1983. This time there are three significant candidates of color on the ballot. Moreover, King’s far left views guaranteed his overwhelming defeat in 1983. Today, Boston has moved left; such views would not automatically spell November doom. They would, however, still generate strong opposition from a Boston business community enjoying a huge building boom — and the popularity that comes with it. Furthermore, downtown Boston is heavy with technology people, finance executives, and education and medical people who, thirty years ago, either didn’t exist or mostly lived in the suburbs. These voters are surely socially progressive, but far Left views on labor and the economy don’t speak their language of prosperity and enterprise.

Arroyo may yet gather to him, in a 12-candidate primary, enough voters to threaten the current two leaders. I like his enthusiasm and also sense a pragmatism in him (as in his Dad) that belies his image as a left-leaning ideologue. (Mel King he isn’t.) Arroyo would, I think, make an exciting Mayor, one who could bring the current Boston prosperity to many who have yet had the opportunity to participate. The excitement that i feel for Arroyo as Mayor surely excites his followers. If he does not make it past the Primary, as looks highly likely, he will have a significant say ion which of the two finalists does win the prize.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON CITY COUNCIL RACE : JACK KELLY OF CHARLESTOWN

Image

^ At-large Council hopeful Jack Kelly at a recent “friend raiser” in Dorchester

—- —- —-

Note : Here and Sphere will make an effort to interview as many City Council candidates as we can reach. This effort must, unfortunately, come second to our coverage of the Mayor race — coverage which starting on Monday will continue every day right through to the September 24th Primary. We will, however, do what we can with the time that we have. First up is Jack F. Kelly III, who was born and grew up in Charlestown, the son of two working patents : a Verizon worker Dad and a Mom who has worked for Boston Public Schools for over two decades.

We first met Kelly at a block party in West Roxbury early last month. About two weeks ago we attended a “Mondays for Marty Walsh” town hall in Charlestown, where we heard first hand the concerns that that neighborhood has with the City’s powers that be. Given the smallness of Charlestown — but its long significance in Boston’s political life too — it was our decision right then that Jack Kelly would be our first City Council interview.

We talked to Kelly at a fund[-raiser event in the Savin hill section of Dorchester — an event he prefers to call a “friend raiser.” What follows was the substance of our talk :

Here and Sphere (HnS) : “What’s your campaign’s chief issue ?”

Kelly : “public health; fighting drug addiction, HIV and hepatitis C. It’s what I do currently, working for Mass General (Hospital). We have to increase the presence of community health workers.”

HnS : “so you agree with what Marty Walsh said that night in Charlestown, that there’s an heroin epidemic in Boston ? He didn’t overstate ?”

Kelly : “Absolutely. No, he did not overstate things. Drugs are everywhere and I see it in my work and know of it in the ‘Town. (Keep in mind that) fighting the drug plague is fundamental to (public) safety.”

Note : Kelly knows the drug menace personally. as his campaign bio puts it, “After graduating from high school, my life took an unexpected turn. Like many kids in my generation throughout Boston, I became addicted to…Oxycontin. for several years I struggled with …addiction… (until) on October 12, 2003…with the help of my community, prayers, and addiction programs, I became sober and began my life again.”

HnS : “fighting drug addiction and diseases like HIV and hepatitis is hardly the usual City Councillor undertaking.”

Kelly : “That’s why i can be heard. It has to be addressed.”

HnS : “Turning to other issues, the various casino proposals are an issue in Charlestown. What is your position ?”

Kelly : “it’s an issue everywhere in the city. I favor an East Boston vote only, not city-wide.. Traffic’s an issue; we will deal with it. The one casino I do NOT want in any circumstance is the Everett proposal. The traffic impact would be intolerable. Any casino has to be in Boston, but you know what ? Why not have it on one of the Harbor islands ? Doesn’t that make the most sense ?”

HnS : “School improvement has been john Connolly’s big issue, one that has given him citywide strength. And that means charter schools. What’s your position on legislation to lift the ‘cap’ on how many charter schools we can have ?”

Kelly : “Definitely school improvement. I favor increasing the number of charter schools but not eliminating the cap entirely.’

HnS : “Partial ‘cap’ lift ?”

Kelly : “Yes.”

HnS : “one thing that John Connolly specifically cites in his school improvement agenda is that the school day should be longer. Your view  is ?”

Kelly : “i agree; but teachers must be compensated for a longer day.”

HnS : “The Boston Globe two days ago focused on the various mayor candidates’ positions on the BRA. Changing the BRA seems on everybody’s mind. What do you think should happen ?”

Kelly : “i want more transparency and for the city council to have a vote on who the new director will be. And by more transparency : all meetings with developers should be videotaped and shown online to be posted on (the websites of) affected neighborhood(s) and their civic association(s).”

HnS : “But you don’t advocate replacing the BRA ?”

Kelly : “correct.”

HnS : “Lastly, a numbers question. You come from Charlestown, one of the City’;s smallest neighborhoods. How can you win citywide ?”

Kelly : “It’s not just Charlestown. It’s the entire City Council District that I’m from, that includes East Boston and the North end. We haven’t had anybody elected city-wide since John Nucci;. It’s about time.”

HnS : “How can you do it ?”

Kelly : “I’m strong in South Boston, Dorchester, West Roxbury. I have friends all over the city, from labor. I was an ironworker after I became sober, a Local 7 member. I also know people everywhere in Boston from being Charlestown Neighborhood co-ordinaor for Mayor Menino. Look at my union endorsements !”

NOTE: Kelly has major union support. His campaign website notes the following union endorsements : Teamsters local 25; Teamsters 122; Laborers 223; IBEW Locals 103 and 104; Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers local 6; Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 12; Plasters and Cement Masons local 534; Custodians Local 1952; Pipefitters Local 537; Sprinkler Fitters Local 550; Sheet metal workers Local 17. (Of these, the most significant might be the Custodians union. Most custodians live in the city — unlike the members of many construction Locals —  and they are numerous; and almost all of them vote every election.)

HnS : “Thank you for talking to us !”

We will likely cross Kelly’s campaign path often as we go about Boston neighborhoods this alt month of the Primary campaign. (indeed, we have already met up with him often.) Still, it’s an uphill fight for the first time candidate, even given his already wide-ranging political resume: in addition to being a neighborhood co-ordinator in Mayor Menino’s administration, Kelly was an elected Hillary Clinton delegate to the 2008 Democratic Convention — considering the size and strength of the Council field. Incumbents Stephen Murphy and Ayanna Presley are running for re-election; former Councillor Michael Flaherty seeks to return to that body. To win the one remaining at-large seat, Kelly must top Lower Mills native Catherine O’Neill (now a resident of Savin Hill); Marty Keogh, a well known West Roxbury attorney; , former Senator Warren campaign staffer Michelle Wu, a South End resident, North Ender Philip Frattaroli, former District Councillor Gareth Saunders; neighborhood co-ordinator Ramon Soto, a Mission Hill resident; and nine others.

His unique candidate profile and personal witness of major public health issues just might do it.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

CORRECTION : this article has been corrected. The original article said that Kelly favored a city wide vote on a casino proposal. In fact, he favors only an East Boston, neighborhood vote. This change has been made in the article that you have read.

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : 18 FORUMS UPCOMING … AND A NEW STATE REP FOR THE 12TH ?

Image

^ John Connolly vs. Marty Walsh : big battle shaping up

In case you doubt that the “sprint to Primary day” is really under way for the 12 Mayor candidates, get this : there are no fewer than eighteen — 18 ! — Mayoral Forums on schedule between today and September 19th.

No one wants to downgrade any Forum, but clearly, of those coming soon, the Main street Coalition’s Forum at the Strand Theater in Uphams’ Corner, on August 19th is key. Important, too,  are the Ward 10 (Mission hill and Hyde Square) Candidates Night on August 27th, the South End Business Alliance Forum on August 29th, and the Wards 19 and 5 Democratic Committee night on September 5. After that, it’s all big stuff, especially these : the NAACP’s Forum, 650 Dudley Street, on September 10th; Action for Boston Community Development’s Forum, 178 Tremont Street, on September 11; the Boston Teachers Union Forum that same night, at the BTU headquarters, 180 Mt Vernon Street near Columbia Point (Dorchester). Then comes the Back Bay Association’s Forum on September 16, and on September 19th, two biggies ; the Dorchester Board of trade, 780 Morrissey Boulevard, off Freeport Street, and a WBUR and Boston Foundation Forum at U Mass Boston in Columbia Point.

Image

^ Former School Committee member John Barros ; impressing many, and a chance to be heard on the big stages coming up

For some of the twelve, these Forums will be a last chance to get voters thinking beyond the “major” hopefuls. For the “majors,” it will be a voice-exhausting exercise in saying over and over again the themes and details that they are already speaking about, again and again, every night now.

Having had few opportunities to say their say in detail and at length, the last-chancers will doubtless impress many. Still, without meaning to sound dismissive, this writer feels, from long observation of major City campaigns, that for the last-chancers, these forums’ big significance will be that they catch the attention of the “majors,’ so that after the Primary, their support will be sought after. Which accords them and their supporters some palpable share in the agenda of whichever candidate finally becomes Mayor. Given that Boston has a strong-Mayor charter, by which the mayor appoints almost every key administrator and runs almost every City department, having skin in his or her game is no small thing for a last-chancer to gain.

There will also be some last-chancers who either do not get the point or who mishandle it. So be it in the political major leagues.

For the “majors,” the objective will be to not stumble, as Dan Conley now infamously did at a recent Black Community Forum, and to not misstate or overlook a policy position. Preparation will not be an issue; with so many forums coming on, no one is going to lose his or her forensic mojo. Still, these forums do not — cannot — overwhelm a major candidate’s time and thinking. He or she has several of his or her own campaign events on schedule, every day and night. it’s one huge, daily rush-rush-rush from here to there and everywhere, a series of stop-and-speak’s, strung across 17 hours of driving like knots on a rope. Such a candidate finds himself cramming on the ride to a Forum — when he or she’s not trying to catch 40 winks.

The good times of this campaign are over for the “majors” — the one on one talks with voters, the casual visits to city parks, neighborhood groups, restaurants, and small house parties. From here on, it’s thirst, palm cards, remembering voters’ names; it’s punishment, exhaustion, endurance, awareness missing nothing, plumping for funds — and reporters bothering them. But hey — this is the biggest of big leagues. Bring on the Forums.

As far as who the Big Two will be after Primary time, we saw nothing yesterday to change our view : John Connolly and Marty Walsh are it, with Rob Consalvo a credible alternative.

I give Consalvo that much because, at yesterday’s special Primary election to choose the 12th Suffolk State Rep’s Democratic nominee (to replace Linda Dorcena-Forry, now a State Senator), he had the most visibility of any mayor hopeful. At the seven city polling places (the District also includes also two precincts in Milton) and in lawn signs all over the Mattapan part of the District, Consalvo showed up.  So far as this writer has observed,he has all along  run the most thorough visibility campaign of the twelve. Were it not that a battle royal is already shaping up between Connolly and Walsh — political people throughout the City are talking about it; we’ll discuss why in future reports — Consalvo’s visibility effort would make all the difference. But that battle royal is taking shape, and fast, and the man from Hyde Park may get squeezed out.

Image

^ Rob Consalvo ; visibility dominant

The 12th Suffolk being a Dorchester/Mattapan thing, local favorite Marty Walsh had workers displaying his name — enthusiastically — at several of the seven polling places; supporters of Bill Walczak and Mike Ross also made a few appearances. John Connolly people, however, were not seen. This could not have been accident. Clearly Connolly had no intention of being measured against Walsh on Walsh’s home turf.

Now to that 12th Suffolk District special election. As we reported on our Facebook page at 9:00 PM last night, the Democratic nomination was won by Dan Cullinane, a former Marty Walsh aide from the Lower Mills neighborhood of Dorchester — as politically active a community as any in Boston. Surely Walsh had to be pleased.

Image

^ Dan Cullinane : Lower Mills victory

Cullinane’s victory party at the Ledge on “Dot Ave” was packed with about 100 supporters, including State Senator Brian Joyce as well as several members of the large and well-known Lower Mills O’Neill family, one of which, Catherine O’Neill, is running for Boston city Council city-wide. The O’Neills too had to be pleased.

Cullinane announced “diversity is the strength of our district’; and thanked, in particular, voters of Haitian origin, several of whom celebrated at his party : “merci, merci, merci,” Cullinane said, ‘and I can’t wait to visit Haiti !”

The new nominee won more than 60 percent of the vote against Stephanie Everett, who waas an aide to State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and Marydith Tuitt, an aide to State Rep Gloria Fox. Cullinane now faces, on September 10th, two independent candidates, one from Milton and one from Mattapan, in a District as Democratic as almost any in the State. If elected, he will join the Boston delegation and bring it to full size again.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE SPRINT TO PRIMARY DAY HAS ALREADY BEGUN

Image

^ Marty Walsh at “Mondays for Marty” in Charlestown

—- —- —-

Six candidates, at least, of the twelve people vying to be be Boston’s next Mayor, have ramped up their campaigns big-time. Truly the sprint to Primary Day has begun.

Every Monday, Marty Walsh holds a town hall with neighbors in those parts of the City he feels he most needs to win a spot in the final. we attended his Charlestown “Monday” last night and found it packed with neighbors with important questions — pointed questions,well informed — to ask of him. Other than Mondays, Walsh can be found shaking hands across the city, sending teams of volunteers to knock on doors, winning endorsements.

Image

^ John Connolly speaking to the West Roxbury improvement Association. Who says Boston voters aren’t focusing on this race ?

John Connolly is dashing across the city from event to event. Yesterday saw him in West Roxbury — addressing a crowd of 200 at the west Roxbury Improvement association forum — Roslindale, Brighton,. and “Eastie,” where State rep. Carlo Basile has endorsed him.

Image

^ Rob Consalvo has probably visited more and diverse community groups than any rival candidate.

Rob Consalvo sends out teams of door-knockers, attends forums, and does meet-and-greets everywhere along the long “spine” of Boston from Readville and Mattapan to the South End, North end, and East Boston .

Dan Conley’s campaign looks a lot like Consalvo’s, except that he has concentrated not on the ‘spine’ but on the extensions : South Boston, West Roxbury, Roslindale, Brighton.

Image

^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : ramping up big-time, finally. (HQ in Mission Hill)

Charlotte Golar-Richie, whose Dad, a retired New York judge, just died, has opened up five neighborhood headquarters, from Mission hill to Roxbury to Upham’s Corner, and though very slow to ramp up, is now fully engaged in the fight.

Image

^ Felix G. Arroyo :  lots of shoe leather and enthusiasm — and union endorsements

Felix G. Arroyo has sent out more door-knocking teams than any of his rivals, and he often joins them. He has some strong labor endorsements and is earnestly pursuing others.

Three other campaigns, those of Mike Ross, Bill Walczak, and John Barros, have made a mark — Barros for his knowledge of the issues, Walczak for his opposition to casinos, Ross for his visibility in social media — but it seems very unlikely that they can catch up to the six top sprinters.

As for those six top sprinters, they are not all running equally. Arroyo and Golar-Richie still suffer from looking to constituencies internally divided, with many of their leaders undecided which way to go, unhappy about what looks likely to be the Final. Arroyo and Golar-Richie also have yet to convince many of the voters whom they will need that they have what it takes to address the issues forcefully and consistently. This was demonstrated at a Black Agenda discussion meeting last night, at the Dudley Branch library, where the participants spoke disparagingly of some, angrily about Dan Conley, unsure of the candidate they most would like to back, impressed chiefly with John Barros, whom they concede isn’t likely to win, and, interestingly, with Marty Walsh, whose labor support they appreciate.

While some vital components of an Arroyo or Golar-Richie candidacy struggle toward a decision, and as Dan Conley attempts to recover from a blow-up — and bad publicity — at a recent candidate forum, there is no hesitancy at all in the camps of the race’s obvious two leaders, John Connolly and Marty Walsh, or on the part of Rob Consalvo. They are running and running fast, hard, focused, backed by strong money and an army of supporters. Even though 70 %, probably, of all Boston voters are not part of these three men’s core vote, their 30 % of the total available vote are active and, thus, making inroads for their chosen candidate into the 70 %; so that by Primary Day — September 24 — if nothing changes big-time, a significant part of the potential Arroyo and Golar-Richie vote will go, not to them, but to the three “traditional Boston” leaders.

After all, no one, whatever kind of voter he or she is, wants to vote for someone who can’t win or who doesn’t look ready. We would have thought, when this race began, that “new Boston ,” with its 70 % of the likely vote, would carry the day and elect a Mayor. Some leaders of the “new Boston” are frustrated that that doesn’t look ready to happen; and they are expressing their frustration.

It looks as though their frustration will indeed be the case. We say it again : the Final looks to be a John Connolly versus Marty Walsh race — with Rob Consalvo the only alternative probability. Every day, this result looks more and more likely.

—- Michael Freedberg

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : WHAT THE MONEY & VISIBILITY STORY TELLS US

Image

^ John R Connolly and Marty J. Walsh ; the top two by any measure

—- —- —-

A look at the OCPF (Office of Campaign finance) reports ending July 31, 2013 tells us that what we can assess on our own already is true: there are four tiers of candidacy among the twelve whose names will appear on the September 24, 2013 ballot.

At the bottom are Charles Clemons and David Wyatt, who have raised almost no money and spent hardly any.

The next tier, of candidates who have raised low six-figure money, or a bit less, includes names both expected and a surprise. It was always likely that Charles Yancey would fall far short. John Barros too. But who knew that Charlotte Golar-Richie, the only woman in the race, a former State Representative and a widely esteemed administrator, would barely make this tier’s cut ? Or that Felix Arroyo, whom many expected to see in the top tiers, would fall into this one ? Both Golar-Richie and Arroyo have raised less money than Bill Walczak, a community organizer and hospital administrator — highly regarded, and for many decades — but who has never run for any elected office.

The Walczak presence intrigues us. As the only candidate openly opposing locating a casino in Boston, has won to his side all those who  reject a development which would add many jobs and lots of tax revenue for the city. Whatever we may think of such opposition — and we decry it — it is the opinion of a vocal minority,and Walczak has it. His tactic is a common one for an underdog candidate to adopt. At this stage of the mayoral campaign, it makes sense for a candidate who at first glance looks overmatched to gain traction by bringing into camp at least one identifiable and committed constituency. This, Walczak has done.

Image

^ Bill Walczak the anti-casino candidate : raised 4 234,919.95. More than either Arroyo or Golar-Richie.

The downside of Walczak’s move is that almost everybody in the City wants to see a casino complex built here. Still, his move blocks rival candidates from poaching a following that probably totals six to eight percent of the Primary vote.

Next we have the tier of strong runner-ups. Here are three names, all important in the race ; Mike Ross, a District City Councillor, who has raised $ 625,579.88, much of it from real estate interests; District City Councillor Rob Consalvo, who reports $ 445,783.29; and District Attorney Dan Conley, who has amassed $ 698,307.64, reportedly mainly from lawyers.

The top tier belongs to just two names. Neither is a surprise. At-large City Councillor John R. Connolly has raised $ 834,242.96; State Representative Marty Walsh, $ 857,526.96. If money were the only fact in this race, the Final would contest these two, likely as close a vote as their money figures.

But money isn’t everything in politics. Visibility matters just as much. By “visibility” we mean not just what you can see but what you hear and feel: the grip of a hand on your wrist, as we like to say it. Visibility on the street used to be all; today, one has to add visibility on the internet. This changes the Boston Mayor outlook significantly. The “traditional” Boston voter has given Walsh, Connolly, Conley, and Consalvo their strong money and, so far, polling advantages. The other candidates with any chance of winning, however, must work on a different route. As they must look to young voters and to technology-driven Downtowners — who are almost impossible to reach with a door-to-door campaign — social media is their means. This is how life is lived today and not just in Boston. But can social media elect a Boston Mayor ?

On the street, the visibility victory goes to Consalvo, Walsh, Connolly, and Conley, in that order; and then to Arroyo. On social media, Arroyo does much better; and Ross, especially, has made himself a social site force. Presence on social media allow Arroyo and Ross to rank, at “omgreports.com,” fourth and fifth — higher than Rob Consalvo. Indeed, the site’s online voting function ranks Arroyo first. Still, even online, Walsh and Connolly place no lower than second and third; indeed “omgreports.com” ranks Walsh and Connolly the top two in overall presence, with Dan Conley third. And why not ? The “traditional” candidates have boldly put their issues agendas to voters both “traditional” and on-line — bolder by far than any of the “new Boston’ candidates has done. Connolly put his forth just yesterday, in seven languages, no less, on-line and on the street. The “traditional” candidates are not living in 1983. They all have significant, even commanding, presences in social media, on Facebook and Twitter. And so do their voters. It’s a new generation even in West Roxbury, Dorchester, and Southie.

Image

^ John Connolly : bold platform, presented in seven languages (including Viet-Namese, Albanian, and Caoe Verde Kriolu)

Money and visibility thus agree. The Final two will likely be John R. Connolly and Marty Walsh. It’s not impossible for Conley, Consalvo, or even Arroyo to edge ahead of either man, but it would definitely be news. Significant upward movement had better start to show really soon for the three candidates now trailing, but with a chance. Will there be such ? We await the August finance reports — and some well-researched polling results.

Image

^ Felix G. Arroyo : big street presence in many parts of the city. Is it enough ?

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : SIX WEEKS TO GO

Image

^ Rob Consalvo outside one of his local headquarters

—- —- —-

It’s getting nitty now, and gritty, the 12-candidate race to elect a new Boston Mayor. Candidates and their armies are knocking on doors, talking to voters one on one — which is the ONLY way to do it. The lawn signs wars are crowding fast. The money is in, and many key endorsements, ones that actually can deliver votes. Nor, fascinatingly, is anyone dropping out. It’s too late to do so, as the Primary ballots have already been printed. The rumors of Dan Conley moving away to run for Attorney General did not pan out. (This is good news for Rob Consalvo.)

Image

^ Dan Conley : staying in mayor race

Indeed, Conley, like Rob Consalvo, Marty Walsh, Felix Arroyo, and, probably, the other “major” candidates, have already begun to open local headquarters in the neighborhoods they are counting on; and to staff them. (Haven’t seen a John Connolly local HQ yet, but very likely soon.) With local headquarters open, the candidates who have them can ramp up their reach out to voters as yet uncontacted, or contacted but uncommitted. From local headquarters phone banks can be more precisely targeted than from a central office.

Image

^ Felix Arroyo : “forward with Felix” showing up at last in the neighborhoods that count

The ‘majors’ are also scheduling regular weekly ‘events,’ such as Marty Walsh’s “Mondays With Marty” and Felix Arroyo’s regular meet-and-greets at locations key to his campaign. Rob Consalvo is making his headquarters openings an “event.” Surely John Connolly and Dan Conley are doing the same. For these candidates, “events” are occasions to raise the enthusiasm level of their already committed voters — and campaign volunteers — and to bring to the committed-vote level voters who have shown interest. In other words, the fun and games times in this campaign are over. From here on it’s all about commit, commit, commit and identify a vote and keep it identified all the way to Primary day.

Image

^ Marty Walsh : “Mondays With Marty” in every neighborhood ?

So much for the “major’ candidates. What we do not understand, frankly, is the stance of the other candidates. Why are Charles Clemons, John Barros, and Bill Walczak still in this race ? And what of District Councillor Mike Ross, who has raised much money from real estate interests but doesn’t seem so far to have gathered an observable following ? Unfortunately, neither question has a ready answer. Clemons, Barros, Walczak, and even Ross surely knew that they were almost certain not to get to the November Final, yet they ran anyway. Is it about introducing oneself to voters ? Hard to see the advantage in making a first impression as an election loser. More likely they see that for the Final, the votes they do manage to win on Primary day will give them influence as the two finalists compete to win their support. Sometimes that campaign purpose succeeds.

Image

^ Mike Ross : lots of money, so far not many visible votes

The above discussion did not mention candidate Charlotte Golar-Richie. Her campaign remains the most puzzling of all. As the only woman in the race, as a person of color, and as a widely accomplished city and state administrator, she has all the credentials a next Mayor would want to possess and an identifiable, sizeable constituency. Yet her campaign hasn’t made itself felt much. She lacks money. She is only now beginning to be visible in the lawn sign wars. She has key endorsements, but they were won early and do not so far seem to have brought her many votes. Nor has she dominated the news. How could she, when, as reporter David S. Bernstein has pointed out, she has only the vaguest of messages and no platform ? The other “majors’ have both message and platform. It matters.

Image

^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : disappointing campaign so far

In a campaign like this one, which will reach almost every voter, most of them at the door, a candidate has to make himself or herself FELT as well as seen and heard. We used to say, “make them feel your grip, just as if you were grabbing them by the wrists.” Walsh, Consalvo, Connolly. Arroyo, and Conley are doing that; so far, Charlotte Golar-Richie hasn’t. Time for her to get tough. A Mayor of Boston HAS to be that.

Prediction : right now we see Rob Consalvo looking stronger, possibly moving to second place; Connolly weaker. Walsh still a good bet for second, even first place. Dan Conley fourth. None of the eight “new Boston” candidates has a chance if all stay in the race — and with the September ballots already printed, all remain in it.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : INTO THE FAR TURN NOW

Image

^ a John Connolly – Marty Walsh final ?

August will arrive this week, leaving only seven weeks until Primary day, at which the two Boston Mayoral Finalists will be chosen. At this point the preliminaries are over; the race is taking on a distinct shape; and those on the wrong side of the taking are beginning to get shelved. It’s the beginning of crunch time. Where does the race stand as the crunch starts ?

Polls have been taken and published. These show that John Connolly, Marty Walsh, Dan Conley, and Rob Consalvo occupy a “top tier” — grabbing from 8 % to 12 % of the assured primary vote — and that Felix Arroyo, Charlotte Golar Richie, and Mike Ross make a “second tier,” each at 5 % of the assumed vote. Four other candidates, Charles Yancey, John Barros, Bill Walczak, and Charles Clemons, also draw a measurable vote.

No surprises in any of this — nor is it a surprise that the “new Boston” candidates are splitting among themselves a vote that, if unified, would assure such candidate making it to the Final.

Arroyo, Ross, and Golar-Richie, their support totaled, easily top the “traditional” field. Indeed, their potential vote should be larger than polled: because the polls taken have tended to concentrate on the most assured voters — namely, the “traditional” voters. Surely, if one or other of the “new Boston” candidates is seen as having a solid chance of winning, “new Boston” voters will turn out in larger than polled numbers. Being seen as a solid potential winner is the major indicator, in almost every election, of a candidate’s ability to turn out voters.

Image

^ Felix G. Arroyo : solid contender if the “new Boston’ vote unifies

Image

^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : a sure winner in November If she can get to the Final

Unhappily for “new Boston,” this Primary  offers no fewer than six viable “new city” candidates. None has made a move to drop out. The six probably draw about 20 % of the polled sample, and on Primary day might garner measurably more. It will do no good, however, if all six continue in the race. All six will lose. This is a disappointing prospect and one that we at Here and Sphere decry. We feel that it is time for Boston to elect a “new Boston” Mayor, “new” voters representing at least two-thirds — probably more — of the entire city vote.

If no “new Boston” candidate withdraws soon, before the ballot is printed, the chances are strong that the Final will choose between two “traditionalists.” Currently the top two candidates in polls are City Councillor at Large John Connolly, at 12 %, and state Representative Marty Walsh, at 11 %. We feel that’s an accurate picture. Walsh, a four term Representative, has a solid Dorchester base extending strongly now into South Boston and, somewhat less strongly, into Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, and Roslindale. He has won the backing of Local 18, the Boston firefighters’ Union. As for John Connolly, son of former Secretary of State Michael J. Connolly, he lives in Ward 20 — which will likely cast ten to 12 % of the entire Primary vote — and has shown broad city-wide support besides. Connolly is waging an active house party and issues campaign, focusing on Boston Schools parents. He can also count on much trust from city workers and their families gained during his terms on the Council.

Dan Conley, the Suffolk County District attorney, has by far the most money, but his city wide support seems surface at most; huge publicity for him, thanks to the many murder investigations under way, does not seem to have added anything to his image as a possible Mayor. Crime, after all, is a huge issue, but not a big Mayoral issue. Schools, development, zoning, and culture seem the issues most germane to the mayor’s office. (NOTE : a report in today’s Herald opines that Conley might switch to run for Massachusetts Attorney Geerral if Martha Coakley, as expected, declares for Governor, Conley has not responded yet.)

Image

^ superb campaign but not enough ? Rob Consalvo

Then there’s Rob Consalvo, who holds the district Council seat that Mayor Menino held from which he won election as Mayor. Consalvo has the problem of bringing together a widely dispersed — and much less ethnic than it used to be — “Italian” vote, from East Boston, the North End, and Hyde Park, and of lacking much city-wide familiarity. That he has nonetheless managed to poll close to the top vote-getters is a credit to the detail and mastery of his very professionally directed campaign. Can Consalvo, thus well directed, perhaps make it into the final ? Probably not.

Which leaves Boston to choose between two men as different as similarly backgrounded people can be. it will, actually, somewhat resemble the 1983 race between David Finnegan and Ray Flynn to choose who would face “new Boston” candidate Mel King. Finnegan lived in West Roxbury, Flynn in South Boston, and as one shrewd observer said, it was a race between “discount store cashiers” and “Boston Latin School.” The same class gulf may well apply to a Walsh versus Connolly Final. The Flynn and Finnegan fight was heated and often bitter — the two men seemed to despise one another. Expect nothing less if a Walsh versus Connolly Final imposes itself on a City that can use some drama not arising, thank goodness, from murder indictments and trials.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere