BOSTON POLS : CAUCUS — WARD 20 ; AMBITION — 5TH SUFFOLK

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^basic democracy : Democratic state chairman Tom McGee of Lynn instructs West Roxbury’s ward 20 caucus

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There may be secret money in the Big Picture, but at the small level where actual people live, vote, and run for office, the money doesn’t taint. Whether it’s caucusing in West Roxbury or manoeuvering a run for State Representative in Dorchester, you find politics basic, the real deal, activism for its own sake. So it was, this morning at Boston Ward 20’s Democratic Party caucus, attended by almost 200 people. So it has been the past two days, since the House expelled Carlos Henriquez, leaving the 5th Suffolk State Representative seat vacant awaiting seekers.

But first, the caucus. I chose Ward 20’s because it is Boston’s biggest voting ward; many were sure to attend to elect 29 delegates to the Democratic convention. The caucus met in the community room at West Roxbury’s Police Station. Attendees and candidate volunteers filled every nook — the hallway too. The State Party chairman was there, Tom McGee of Lynn; so were two competing slates of delegates, a Don Berwick group led by Helen Bello — who hosted the huge Berwick house party that I wrote about recently — and a Juliette Kayyem list led by an old friend, Paul Nevins, an employment lawyer. A group of independent names was nominated too, well known people sure to draw votes on name alone; and attendees voted as much for names they knew as for any slate; there wasn’t at all the structure that I had expected of this meeting. It seemed as much a meet and greet as an election.

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^ Ward 20 state Representative Ed Coppinger discusses matters with Here and Sphere follower Michelle Von Vogler

There was voting, but mostly there was conversation as faces familiar or new worked the room. State Senator Mike Rush was there, as was West Roxbury State Representative Ed Coppinger. Governor candidate Martha Coakley worked the room for about 20 minutes, then left. District Attorney Dan Conley shook hands. So did Congressman Steve Lynch. Old friends Carole White (Kevin White’s sister in law) and Marilyn LaRosa were elected; I noticed Helen Greaney in the room and Greg Haugh also — two other Haugh’s sought election as delegates — and Ann Murphy, still glamorous as ever, now working as an aide to Mike Rush. A couple of Boston Teachers Union activists signed in — but I did not see Ward 20’s biggest BTU name, Ed Doherty — and people from both the Connolly and Walsh mayor campaigns.

Circulating as well were four who ran last year for City Council : local resident Marty Keogh, Jack Kelly, and winners Steve Murphy and Michelle Wu. It was a “good hit,” as pols say of an event well worth being seen at.

UPDATE ON DELEGATES ELECTED : Thanks to Rob for posting to me the entire list, mostly of the usual Ward 20 activists (including two Haugh’s and a BTU active, City Council candidate Marty Keogh, a Marty Walsh cabinet member — Alejandra St. Guillen — and at least one State Employee) and two Don Berwick delegates. Take a look :

Female Delegates:
Alyssa Ordway – 75 votes
Carole White – 74
Ann Cushing – 71
Cathy Fumara – 68
Helen Haugh – 68
Diana Orthman – 68
Marilyn LaRosa – 65
Patricia Malone – 65
Anita Salmu – 65
Margaret Sullivan – 63
Josiane Martinez – 60
Alejandra St. Guillen – 59
Sue Anderson – 58
Heather Bello – 26
Hema Kailasam – 21
Jennifer McGoldrick (Alternate)
Pamela Keogh (Alternate)

Male Delegates:
Robert Orthman – 69 votes
David Isberg – 66
Steve Smith – 66
Marty Keogh – 65
Bill Smith – 64
Kevin Walsh – 64
Bill MacGregor – 63
George Donahue – 62
Joe Haugh – 60
John Fumara – 59
Leo Connell – 58
Tom Hanktankis – 58
Patrick Murray – 58
Larry Connolly – 56
Bob Tumposky – 56

(UPDATED 02/09/14 at 10.45 AM)

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And now to the 5th Suffolk District, in Dorchester, where the expulsion of Carlos Henriquez has left a gaping hole…

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will he be the first Uphams Corner state Rep since Jim Hart 40 years ago ? John Barros may become a candidate in the 5th Suffolk special election… But so might the woman pictured below, Karen Charles of the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood :

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The 5th Suffolk State Representative seat in the Massachusetts House won’t be vacant for long. Already the hungry are circling, impatient, guessing and out-guessing. The big news is that John Barros, who ran for mayor last year and impressed many, is seriously considering a run. Barros lives in the heart of the District, owns a successful restaurant in it,. and would be an elite voice for 40,000 people very much in need of one. Barros is not, however, the only notable who is thinking publicly about running. There’s also Karen Charles, who works at WGBH (full disclosure : WGBH’s Peter Kadzis was my editor at the Boston Phoenix and remains a friend professionally and personally), and who, with her husband Kevin Peterson, an NAACP activist, make a formidable team of articulate reformers and who are said to be close to Charlotte Golar-Richie, who once represented the 5th Suffolk, still lives in it, and who was, like Barros, a candidate in last year’s Mayor campaign.

In that Mayor campaign, Barros won 2,072 votes in the 5th District’s 20 precincts; Golar-Richie won 1,465. Barros thus starts with a 600 vote advantage. That isn’t the entire story, though, Felix Arroyo won 570 votes in the District; and Carlos Henriquez, of Hispanic origin like Arroyo, is said to intend running again to reclaim his seat. Even if he does not run, the 570 Arroyo votes seem up for grabs, not to mention the 313 won by Charles Yancey and the 495 won by John Connolly. (Marty Walsh’s 640 votes might split between Barros and a Golar-Richie-backed candidate, as both she and Barros helped Walsh win the Final).

That said, Barros certainly would enter the race as the favorite no matter who else decides to run — including Henriquez himself. The two men are said to be close friends as well as political allies, and some speculate that if Henriquez runs — and he probably will — Barros will not. We shall see. Whatever the case may happen, this is a District that badly needs an A-list voice. It has always had a working-class majority even in the days, not too long ago, when much of it was Roxbury Red Raider country. The “5th” includes the entire Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, one of Boston’s most impacted by gang violence; a stretch of Blue Hill Avenue that Red Raiders knew as “Cherry Valley,” once almost entirely blighted but, of late, enjoying the beginnings of a resurgence (as anyone familiar with local hot-spot Merengue Restaurant knows); Upham’s Corner and half of Jones Hill (where I had my first adult job, working as go-fer to state Rep. Jim Hart); and, of Roxbury, the north side of Dudley Side from Hibernian Hall eastward, all the way past the Governor Shirley mansion to and including “the Prairie” ball field (where Red Raider teams played Park League baseball and football). None of the district is high-income; not much of it is middle-income. Everyone benefits from having an eloquent and respected voice in the legislature, but the people of the 5th Suffolk would benefit more than most.

There will be a special election to fill the vacancy. It will be called soon — the date of it as yet unknown but probably early May. It will be a short campaign, a local effort, politics at its most basic and not much different from that Ward 20 caucus that I attended this morning. More voters to reach, yes, but not much more structure. It also looks now to be the most attention-getting time that the 40,000 people of the “5th” have gained in many, many years if ever. Let the democracy of it begin.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR FINAL : WHAT THE TWO NEED TO DO, AND WHY

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^ John Connolly — Marty Walsh : two irish names but men who could hardly be more different

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Who will win on November 5th and become Boston’s next mayor ? The punditry has already begun. Most of what we’ve read talks about “communities color” and how on Tuesday Boston voted once again for two Irish white guys who now need to find a way to win said communities’ votes. True; but very simplistic. There are a lot more votes that Walsh or Connolly need to win. 64 % of those who voted on Tuesday voted for somebody else. Many November voters did not vote at all. Probably as much as 80 % of those who will vote on November 5th did not vote for the two white irish guys.

What must Walsh and Connolly do about it ? And how do I assess the obstacles they face ? Here goes:

1.Marty Walsh on Tuesday was pretty much a locally dominant winner; John Connolly on Tuesday was fairly much a broadly based vote-getter. Walsh’s vote was passionate, Connolly’s cool. Cool votes count as much as hot ones.

Despite his first place finish, Walsh’s challenge is immense. Though he swept cleanly the precincts of his seaside base — from South Boston to Savin Hill to Florian hall — he turned out 45 % to as much as 71 % of the voters in those precincts, by dint of a vast field organization of door knockers. That card is now played. He can increase his base vote by some, but not by a lot. Yes, he won as much as 77 % of the vote in his “base.” But 77 % of 80% of all voters in his base, say, isn’t that much more than 77 % of 71%.

As for outside his base, Walsh barely registered in some very key places. Take a look :

( a ) Ward 5 (Back bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway ) ——— Walsh 224 Connolly 1426
South End & Downtown (Ward 3 Pcts 6,7,8
and ward 4 Pcts 1-6, Wd 8 Pcts 1-3, ward 9 Pcts 1-2)………………………………………………………                               Walsh 545 Connolly 1909

TOTAL DOWNTOWN AREA ………….          Walsh 769 Connolly 3335

In the Primary, these precincts turned out an average of about 22 % to 25 % of their registered vote. In November these precincts always turn out in much bigger numbers. Even an increase from 25 % to just 40% — there will likely be more — would raise Connolly’s advantage over Walsh from 2564 votes to over 4000 votes. at 50% turnout the margin would increase to 5128 votes.

( b ) Ward 20 (West Roxbury and much of Roslindale)
………………………………………………………………… Walsh 1763 Connolly 4074

This doesn’t on the face of it look so bad for Walsh in Connolly’s home neighborhood. But looks deceive. Connolly faced a strong other candidate, Dan Conley, living in Ward 20 too and taking about 2500 votes (I am estimating, the City of Boston Ward and Precinct unofficial results for some reason leave Conley out). In addition, Ward 20 turned out 49% of its huge number of voters. In November, Ward 20 can turn out at least 70% — 17,000 to 18,000 voters — and Dan Conley will not be on the ballot. At 17,000 votes, a Walsh 3500 Connolly 13,500 result is entirely feasible. Even a more likely Walsh 5000 Connolly 12,000 result would give Connolly a larger margin than the entire vote turnout in Walsh’s home Ward 16.

Add a conservative Connolly margin of 5000 in the downtown areas, and he now has a bigger margin — 12,000 — over Walsh than the likely entire turnout from Wards 16 and 7, Walsh’s two strongest Wards.

( c ) East Boston, Brighton, Ward 19 (Centre Street, Jamaica Plain; plus a small part of Roslindale)

Even with the support of State Rep. Liz Malia, Walsh fared not so hot in Jamaica Plain. In East Boston, Connolly had the endorsement of State Rep. Carlo Basile. Basile delivered. In Brighton, to which neither he nor Connolly had any local claim, Connolly was the clear winner :

Ward 1 ………………………………………………….. Walsh 762 Connolly 1214

Curiously, in this once banner “Italian” Ward, Rob Consalvo did not dominate Tuesday. His vote total barely matched Connolly’s. Turnout, too, was shockingly small : about 28 % . In November, all this will change. Historically, East Boston has consciously “delivered” the bigger part of 6000 to 7000 votes to a preferred, usually Irish, contender. It was famously so in 1959, when Ward 1’s vote made the difference in John Collins’s upset win over the much favored John E. Powers. In 2013 it is unlikely that Ward 1’s top politicals can “deliver” the Ward to anybody; yet with a much higher turnout — that much the ward’s politicals can do — and Rob Consalvo out, plus a clear preference for Connolly, as it stands today he will carry “Eastie” by about 1400 votes : say 4200 to 2800.

Ward 21 …………………………………………………………. Walsh 362 Connolly 631
Ward 22 …………………………………………………………. Walsh 818 Connolly 832
TOTAL ………………………………………………………………..      . 1180                  1463

Brighton’s turnout was tiny. In Primaries it always is. In November, the turnout might double and still be small. Connolly’s advantage isn’t much, but it is an advantage and takes away from Walsh a possible chance to cut Connolly’s huge vote margins in the Wards I have already assessed.

Ward 19 ………………………………………………………. Walsh 542 Connolly 1007

Many Ward 19 votes went to other candidates on Tuesday. Still, unless they break decisively to Walsh, and adding a modestly higher turnout — to maybe 55 % — than Tuesday’s estimable 42 %, Connolly still stands to win the Ward by a good 1500 votes. Not a lot, but at this point Connolly doesn’t need a lot more.

All of the above leaves it — with one exception; see below — up to Boston’s “communities of color,” concentrated in Wards 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, part of 13 and 15, 17, and much of 18. It’s a lot of the City’s voters, maybe 25 % — greater, taken together, than Ward 20. On Tuesday, Walsh and Connolly won almost an equal share of what little vote in these communities did not go to Charlotte Golar Richie, John Barros, and Felix Arroyo. If on November 5th communities color divide their vote equally, Connolly almost certainly wins. What are the chances that Walsh can turn a palpable majority of voters of color in his direction ? As of today, I cannot tell. My friends think that a decision here will not be made until after one or two of the upcoming three debates. I think they are right.

But let us say that even after the debates, Boston’s voters of color poll equally for Walsh and Connolly. Does Walsh still have a chance ? Yes he does.

I’ve left one big region out of the discussion : the part of Ward 18 that Mayor Menino lives in. it is said that Menino cannot stand John Connolly, and Connolly’s loss to Walsh in Hyde Park and Readville bears out what is said :

Ward 18 Pcts 9, 10, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23)
————————————————————————– Walsh 647 Connolly 542

In Menino’s home precinct (20), Walsh beat Connolly 97 to 34. Of course the overwhelming majority of votes in the precinct went to local hero Rob Consalvo. He won about 2500 votes in the whole region. It is assumed, probably correctly, that Consalvo will support Marty Walsh. If I assign Consalvo’s 2500 local votes three to one to Walsh, and increase the turnout from 45 % to 60 %, Walsh wins Menino’s home area by about 1800 votes.

With this 1800 vote victory, a 10 point margin among communities of color, some increase of vote in his home area (South Boston especially), and a strong debate showing leading to a decent majority among voters who did not vote at all on Tuesday, Marty Walsh can win the day. But it will not be easy.

Marty is respected by all who know him, has a civil rights record second to no one, and has the utter loyalty of labor (other than the Teachers Union). He needs to run an almost perfect campaign. He needs to tell us about his 16-year record at the state House. He needs to show that he speaks the language of business, and its plans, as authoritatively as he talks that of labor.

Walsh needs badly to expand his reach at least into areas where he wasn’t blown out : Tom Menino’s half of Ward 18; Jamaica Plain; Brighton (Ward 22); the North End; and Ward 10 (Mission Hill precincts). He would be well advised to borrow from Dan Conley’s excellent, neighborhood-oriented recommendations list of administrative reforms. He needs to get Felix Arroyo and Rob Consalvo aboard.

John Connolly’s strategy should be “steady as you go.” Continue to do exactly what he has been doing, but also present a convincing plan for administrative reform — Dan Conley’s neighborhood by neighborhood list, but also reform of the Police and Fire Departments. Connolly needs to get some sleep before the debates and come out passionate and and in command as he already has shown he can do.

Can Walsh do it ? Yes he can. But John Connolly is no punching bag. He can do it too. He speaks as eloquently as Walsh does, seems to understand the culture better, and draws voters of all ages and both genders much more readily than Marty Walsh has so far shown.

It is going to be a terrific six weeks, isn’t it ?

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : DAN CONLEY FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL ?

 

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^ Dan Conley : more a law officer than a Mayor ?

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Question : has any Suffolk County District Attorney ever been elected Boston’s mayor ? This writer can’t think of one.

Perhaps this is why rumors abound that Dan Conley, the current “DA,” will leave the Mayor race to seek the office of Massachusetts Attorney General instead. Supposedly all that Conley is waiting for is current “AG” Martha Coakley announcing her candidacy for Governor – a decision that all observers expect.

If true, the move by Conley makes sense. He has amassed barrels of money – at last report his account had well over $ 1,000,000 on hand – and proposed a bold agenda, yet still lags in recent polls that show him running third to Marty Walsh and John Connolly. It is Connolly and Walsh who have won the past week’s major endorsements; Conley was passed by.

The murder of Amy Lord and the pending indictments of Aaron Hernandez have brought enormous publicity to Dan Conley. Yet none of it has helped his Mayoral hopes. If anything, the publicity has actually hurt Conley. Crime and prosecution are certainly big matters to voters; but they are not matters that people identify with being Mayor.

The issues that voters ascribe to their Mayor are these : zoning; schools;  development;  civil rights; and, most sweeping of all, quality of life – in the neighborhoods, with street cleaning and snow removal as well as road repair, and Downtown, moving it to a closing hour more progressive than the current 2 A.M. absurdity. Conley, as District Attorney, deals with hardly any of this.

Were Conley to leave the mayor race, who would benefit most of the 9 % of voters that current polls give him ? Nine percent of the likely Primary vote totals about 14,000 votes. Obviously the 14,000 will not go only to one Mayoral contender. That said, as we see it, the largest block of this 14,000 will go to the remaining “traditional” candidates. And not just any of them; the most significant benefits will surely go to Councillor-at-Large John Connolly and State Representative Marty Walsh, and not to District 5’s City Councillor, Rob Consalvo.

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^ Rob Consalvo : being squeezed out ?

Here’s why we see Conley’s support going chiefly to Connolly and Walsh:

Conley lives in Ward 20. So does John Connolly. Connolly is polling in first p[lace. As voters like to pick winners rather than give up a vote on someone who won’t likely win, Connolly is sure to pick up most of the “local guy” vote that Conley is now drawing. Consalvo, too, has strong support in Ward 20; but he has failed to win recent endorsements, indeed was passed on by St. Rep. Carlo Basile of East Boston. If Consalvo can’tr win  the support of an Italian-name legislator, who can he win that he does not already have ? He will pick up some Conley votes, yes; but not nearly enough.

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^ John Connolly : will benefit if Conley leaves Mayor race

But that’s not the whole story. Conley has paid much attention for months now to South Boston. He campaigned there on April lst, when that neighborhood (and Dorchester) chose a new State Senator. (Here and Sphere photographed him that day campaigning among voters at Gate of Heaven parish hall, where two South Boston precincts voted.) South Boston  is still home to large numbers of city and county employees; and Conley’s Irish name surely still draws many votes in the City’s archetypal Irish-name neighborhood (though that is changing, as we all know).

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^ Dan Conley campaigning at Gate of Heaven parish hall on April lst.

In Southie, the winner of most Conley votes would likely be Marty Walsh, not John Connolly. Walsh lives in Savin Hill, the Dorchester neighborhood closest to “Southie” culturally and proximately. Like Connolly, Walsh, looks a winner. He polls a close second to Connolly and has significant support from Labor Unions both public and private – groups strongly represented in the South Boston’s vote.

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^ Marty Walsh : major support from the City;’s Unions – strong in South Boston

For some time now, the September primary for this year’s Mayor race has looked like a Walsh and Connolly “final.” Dan Conley leaving it to run for Attorney General makes this Primary result almost a certainty. It WILL Be a certainty if the many “new Boston” candidates now dividing about 25 % of the likely Primary vote don’t stop chasing their own individual dreams, none of which can come true if all keep on chasing. The “new Boston” vote can command the Primary and win the “final.” But it can’t do anything if it continues on its current eight-candidate course.

Dan Conley’s momentous decision awaits.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere