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Bennett's political analysis for 4/28-5/5/13

This past week was a big week in politics here in Boston.

1. Steve Lynch will not run for Mayor.

Leading up to this past week, many speculated that 8th Congressional District U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch was using the U.S. Senate race to raise his profile so he could run for Boston Mayor. Lynch's chances were ruined by losing his hometown of Boston by a margin of 31,000 plus votes to Lynch's 28,000 plus votes.

Essentially, Markey "Al Gored" Stephen Lynch. To understand this, Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee to George W. Bush in 2000 and that was the real reason why Gore lost the presidency not because of Florida. For Lynch to have won the U.S. Senate Democratic Primary, he needed to run up the vote against Markey in Boston and this just did not happen.

2. Dewey beats Truman.

The 1st Suffolk Senate race was an unbelievable contest. My parish, St. Ann's, falls right inside this state Senate district. Three great candidates fought tooth and nail to replace Jack Hart who left his seat for a high paying job at a law firm.

On April 30th, it seemed from about 12PM to 1PM, Neponset was battleground zero for all three state Senate campaigns. For instance at St. Ann's Church where voters from Ward 16 precincts 7 and 10 vote, (during this hour alone) Maureen Dahill and her husband stood greeting voters near the street on Neponset Avenue while Nick Collin's identitical twin brother Andrew greeted voters near the entrance way of the building where the voting booths were. About fifteen minutes later, Linda Dorcena Forry was in Adams Village next to the corner of Minot Street and Adams Street in front of Blaise's restaurant shaking hands.

Both Collins and Dorcena Forry had strong Election Day organizations. In Dorchester, many members of District 3 City Councilor Frank Baker's organization were marking the polls for Collins. James Baker (Frank's older brother and Campaign Manager) was directly in control for marshalling forces for Collins in District 3.

In fact, James' brother in law Kevin was marking the Adams Street Library where those who live in Ward 16, Precinct 8 vote. At the National Guard Armory on Victory Road where Ward 16, Precinct 2 votes, Joe Baker marked the poll during the day.

On the other hand, while polls were being marked by Collin's team, Dorcena Forry had troops going house to house to pull voters out and remind them to vote. Here’s an example. When I woke up that morning on April 30th, Dorcena Forry's troops had been out during the middle of the night hanging GOTV campaign door hangers on those doors where her campaign had identified Forry supporters.

Then in the early afternoon, Dorcena Forry's troops were again out going door to door. Former City Council Candidate and Collin's political rival Craig Galvin was in Pope's Hill going door to door on behalf of Dorcena Forry in Ward 16, precincts 5 and 7. Galvin and Collin's feud goes back to their battle to represent the 1st Suffolk Senate District in the Democratic State Committee as the district's representative.

Later that night as the election results trickled in, major media outlets including the Associated Press and the Boston Globe called the election early for Collins in a landslide. Even I thought these results would hold. However, this was a clear example in politics where "Dewey definitely did not beat Truman."

At first, when the results came in they were all from the stronghold of Collin's vote which was from South Boston running south all along the territory east of Dorchester Avenue until you reach the Dorchester Avenue and Adams Street intersection. Once you come to the intersection, Collins stronghold then follows all precincts east of Adams Street all the way down the eastern coast of Dorchester with Collins winning Ward 16 (the biggest Ward in the District or 20% of the vote). All the territory west of Dorchester Avenue and then from the Dorchester Ave/Adams Street intersection, all territory west of Adams Street went for Dorcena Forry. The votes from Dorcena Forry's stronghold weren't reported until later.

3. Mayoral Campaigns in overdrive.

Yard signs are already popping up across Boston. In West Roxbury and Roslindale, Connolly signs are thick and popping up fast. Also, Connolly signs have been popping up heading towards the eastern side of Boston. For instance, Connolly has a 4’X8’ sign at the Massachusetts Avenue/Columbia Road intersection. Connolly forces are also seen in Ward 16, Precinct 9 where some of his signs are popping up on back streets and major roads like Ashmont Street. Additionally, many Connolly bumper stickers have been seen on cars so far. In fact, Connolly's early start has probably helped him get out to a head start. He raised $160K in April bringing his total money raised to $500K. This is a lot of money.

Marty Walsh has a very strong organization and if he wins, it is because he is the most organized. Yesterday, Walsh had an event at The Strand Theatre in Uphams corner where about a thousand supporters came out for him. I don't see many Walsh yard signs, yet Walsh definitely has distributed a ton of bumper stickers so far. I did see a few Walsh signs in South Boston, but I also saw a Dan Conley sign there as well.

While Connolly raised $160K and Walsh raised another $100K himself in April, Dan Conley seems to be getting out to a slow start. Conley starts out with $800K in his campaign account, but he only raised $35K in April. It makes me believe that although he'll have the money to compete with TV commercials and direct mail in August and September, is there really enthusiasm behind Conley being elected Mayor? It is very early still to tell.

On the other hand, Michael Ross is a prolific fundraiser and no matter what his personal flaws may be, he's a talented politician and public servant. Ross has raised $120K in April. This brings Ross to over $300K so far. Can Michael Ross win? Maybe. However, I think Ross should have sat this race out and focused on the possibility of an open 7th Congressional seat if Capuano runs for Governor in 2014. However, Ross's base is geographically limited and he is unknown in most parts of Boston. He has to hope that his voting base and can Beacon Hill/Back Bay/Mission Hill deliver a big vote for Ross in September to put him into the finals and this is unclear.

Michael Ross reminds me of Larry DiCara. Both were talented City Councilors who both served as City Council President. Both could raise a lot of money. Both looked to run for higher office (Ross withdrew from the election to fill Barney Frank's congressional seat when Kennedy entered the race, and DiCara ran unsuccessfully for Secretary of State and State Treasurer in the 1970s). Yet because the field is so deep, I expect Ross like DiCara to finish in the distance behind his competitors. In 1983, Larry DiCara finished a distant 4th place in the Mayoral Preliminary with 15K votes behind Mel King who finished with 45K votes, Ray Flynn with about 45K votes, and David Finnegan with about 40K votes.

Felix Arroyo’s grassroots forces were out on Election Day like his competitors collecting signatures. Arroyo does have a strong grassroots organization and because there are so many candidates running, Arroyo should make the finals because he will pull a large vote out of Jamaica Plain. Yet his competitors are already campaigning hard. Rob Consalvo has signs up in Hyde Park already and his signs marked many polling locations on April 30th. Consalvo and Walsh yard signs made up the majority of Mayoral Candidates who had signs up outside of the polling areas this day. Consalvo also collected 4000 sigs like Walsh. Conley and Connolly collected over 3000 signatures as well. Arroyo only raised 35K last month compared to Consalvo’s 60K. I know Arroyo said he’ll raise enough to be competitive and enough to win, but if he only has 200K by August and his competitors have four to five times as much money, then you can forget about Arroyo. Instead it might become a three man race between Connolly, Walsh, and Conley.

These are just my thoughts. ..


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Are Boston City Council members more qualified who have never been Council staff? Do the compromises necessary by the 100 or so staff at Boston City Council prejudice them, develop a cynical antipathy against the people seeking City Council action?

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Though I don't agree with a number of your assertions, others are quite good. I know you caught flak with some UHub folks who felt like you shouldn't be writing posts, I disagree I think you make better predictions than most. But a few thoughts from someone who has followed city elections his whole life.

1. Money is a red herring. Boston elections are about pressing the flesh, can money help introduce you to voters? Sure, but is it the end all be all? No, no it isn't. As 1983 and countless other elections have shown winners in Boston Politics are about individuals and no amount of money will buy you personality or enthusiasm from voters. Only paired with a grassroots push is money truly maximized. As such someone like Ross, who is funded by big developers, actually has less support than most in the race. If you look at Connollys, OCPF you see that about 80% of his dollars come from OUT of Boston. These things reflect that yes you may be raising cash, but you're doing it from folks who cannot vote for you, its a red herring to who actually has support from voters.

2.Forry just reinforces that Felix Arroyo is standing on very strong ground he does appear, at this time, too be a sure bet for finals. His combination of Union, grassroots, and progressive support allow him to be a top finisher (1-3) in every ward. Not many of these candidates can say that at this time.

3. Signs do not vote. Putting them up this early is all well and good but weather and time generally lead to their dismantling. It's not smart use of campaign cash to unveil them this early, they will surely need replacing, and thus more money wasted on things that do not prove as effective as say mailers. This race will be covered almost every day by the press, for the major players visibility will not be an issue.

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I do agree with you on your 3 points:

1. Money is a red herring and this election will be decided by doorknocking, pressing for flesh, and asking for votes. I do agree with you that many of the top fundraisers so far have been raising much of their money outside of the city.

2. Regarding Arroyo, I predicted in a previous post, that Arroyo because of demographics and numbers should be in the finals.

However, I'm starting to think because people do not get four votes but only one vote, is this really going to happen?

Felix is a talented candidate, but I've heard from many people, that one of the biggest reasons why he won in 2009 was because many voters had believed that it was not he who was running for City Council At-Large, but that it was actually his father because they have such similar names (same first and same surname just a different middle initial).

His father as we know had been an at-large City Councilor who lost his seat in 2007. Many voters believed that his father was making a comeback (but it was his son who was running instead). If Felix (the son) had a different first name like Patty White and Ed Flynn in 2005, would he have won in 2009? I do not know. There was definitely a lot of confusion and it helped Arroyo Jr.

Now he has had 3.5 years since his election to separate himself from his father’s shadows and make his own name for himself and he has stood out at times like when he helped negotiate the Local 718’s contract with the City. So I’m not saying Arroyo won’t be in the finals.

Like I said the numbers and demographics support him in this possibility. My observation is based on how aggressive and hungry his rivals have been so far. Like I mentioned, Connolly, Walsh, and even Consalvo are out on the battlefield making much more noise than Arroyo so far.

Plus, strong candidates like John Barros, Charlotte Golar Ritchie, Charles Yancey, and Charles Clemons will cut into much of the assumed vote that many believe will go for Arroyo. Because of the strength of these other candidates in addition to those mentioned, I just don't know if Arroyo will make the finals now.

However, He has hired Doug Rubin who is the best campaign manager out there and Rubin will do all he can to help Arroyo win.

3. You are right, signs don’t vote.

We saw an example with the U.S. Senate Primary. Steve Lynch had signs all over the Commonwealth. I saw very few Markey signs. However, signs do demonstrate organization and help build early name recognition and I do not believe it is too early to put up signs for this contest because there are only FOUR months until the preliminary election.

So this contest is quickly shaping up not as a marathon, but a sprint. This is why I believe a “dark horse” candidate like Rob Consalvo could emerge.

My point about comparing the efforts of Consalvo and Arroyo is that Arroyo needs to worry about a candidate like Consalvo passing him at the end. Consalvo raised almost twice as much money as Arroyo in April (60K to 35K). And although I did see some members of Arroyo’s organization collecting signatures at the polling locations last Tuesday April 30th, his rivals (Consalvo, Walsh, Connolly, Conley, etc…) were out there hustling as well. Consalvo’s signs were hanging up at the polling sites and he was one of only candidates who was shrewd enough to do that; Walsh being the other candidate that I saw.

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Just a heads up Dan Conley's field submit over 8000 signatures by first thing Wednesday morning. Also they have over 10k now. Their field was the best by far last Tuesday, by double over Marty and nearly 3 times as many as Connolly and everyone else was far behind in the back of the pack.

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I wouldn't count on JP coming out big for Arroyo. Pressley took the most votes there in 2011 and most of the seasoned field organizers there are not Arroyo fans.

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I would say reports of not knowing the difference are overblown. He has now run and won two separate elections for at large, if you didn't know the difference by the second election thats a tough one too believe. By then he'd already been in the papers, local and the big two, several times. That sounds more like anecdotal games of telephone. Folks who surmise that to be true but provide no examples, you know of the "I heard" variety.

I agree hustle is important though something like this with four months and the kind of coverage it will get is still not a sprint, more like a 10K than a full blown marathon. But I agree the early hustle is important.

As a question for you, do you believe this will all be identity politics or will record come into play? As I see it Arroyo's main defense against a guy like Consalvo is what he has achieved in 4 years (Contract you mentioned, invest in Boston act) as opposed to Consalvo in about 11. Will those kinds of things play a role? I happen to think they will. I also believe only a handful of candidates truly have citywide penetration, which means a guy like Consalvo is truly introducing himself for the first time to most voters Arroyo, Connolly, and Conley have had the advantage of already penetrating all the wards.

Not counting anyone out because really it feels far too early to tell but I think that penetration is deeply important when so many of these candidates are stealing from each others bases.

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... will be the ones who are most likable. Because there are so many quality candidates, the number of votes will be so divided, that it will come down to the candidate with the most charisma and personality and most importantly are the ones who most simply explain their vision for the future of Boston to the populace.

You are right about money being a red herring and I also believe that issues will play only a small portion in the end.

Ed Davis testifies in front of Congress on Thursday (5/9/13). If he's impressive don't be suprised if there isn't a big push to get Davis to run for Mayor which if he did he'd win in a landslide. He would have until next Monday's deadline (5/13/13) to apply for nomination papers.

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This election will draw out more voters than your usual prelim - but at the end of the day the 20,000 people who work for the city and its agencies will once again rule the roost. Find the 2-4 candidates who promise the most to workers at city hall (or who promise to take away the least as budgets get tighter) and those are your favorites. Probably looking at what - maybe 60,000 votes in the prelims? City hall, plus their friends and family probably control half of that. I'll vote - but for the rest of us looking for real change and reform, we shouldn't hold our breath.

Example - schools need fixing on many fronts - no question. One thing that MUST happen is a longer school day as part of that - anybody runs on that plank is toast.

Bennies need cutting - growth in health care, pensions, retiree health etc. simply not sustainable - anybody touches that third rail they are burned toast.

The list goes on.

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... 20K city workers. This group will be the biggest block of voters and they may like in previous elections decide the election. To understand this, it's not just the city workers who vote but their family members who vote as well because many people want to ensure that they keep their jobs which makes sense.

Regarding the total votes in the preliminary election... I think 60K is too low of an estimate because in 2009 in the four person race between Menino, Flaherty, Yoon, and McCrea there were about 82,000 people who voted.

My estimate for the September 24th preliminary because it's an open seat and there will be massive hype leading up to it that 110,000 people will vote in the preliminary and 130K-140K will vote in the Finals.

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Who hasn't thrown their hat in the City Council races yet that surprises you? Or might still?

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I think Walczak is a good candidate and like I was saying in a previous post he could be a problem for Marty Walsh because they are both from the same precinct (Ward 13 Precinct 10). I think that Walczak could straw some votes from Walsh. However, I do not believe that Walczak will win.

I think that Walczak should have run for Councillor At-Large. In this year's contest he would have been a strong at-large candidate because let's face it, the At-Large race is very weak this year.

Walczak did put out this new video. You can watch it by clicking here.

I'm still suprised that Ayanna Pressley did not run. I think she had a wide open path to victory in the preliminary in the mayoral contest. Not that Charlotte Golar Ritchie may not be strong, her problem is that although she has worked in top jobs for both Menino and Patrick, her name has not been on the ballot for fifteen years. So she will have to reintroduce herself to many voters, plus she never ran City-Wide before only for State Rep which her district probably made up 1/12th or less of the total city.

A candidate who should over perform in the Councillor At-Large race is Kevin McCrea. He's been around as a "people's advocate" since 2005 or longer. If he makes the ballot and he should, he will make the finals for the At-Large City Council race and could be a "dark horse" candidate in that race.

McCrea is a bomb thrower who is anti-corruption and has city-wide recognition from running for At-Large City Council in 2005 and then for Mayor in 2009. I think McCrea has a good shot to make the finals in November because he scored about 5000 votes for Mayor in the 2009 Preliminary.

This is an important number because those who voted for McCrea could only vote for one person. If these same people are loyal and vote for McCrea again and if he can expand his base by reaching out to additional 10,000 voters who give him one of four votes, then he could be trouble to Michael Flaherty in the finals.

Both Flaherty and McCrea are arch-rivals. When McCrea endorsed Flaherty for Mayor in 2009, it was a situation where the "enemy of my enemy is my best friend." So although McCrea hated Flaherty, McCrea hated Menino more. This is why he endorsed "Floon."

I expect McCrea if he's serious about making the ballot to target Flaherty again.

Flaherty on the other hand should win but there is some serious "Flaherty Fatigue." I've heard it from many people that they believe that Michael is running for the wrong reasons.

Flaherty really blew it in 2011. It was a fatal mistake to try to immediately try to get back onto the City Council by going after an At-Large seat. As we saw, it completely backfired and I never would have thought I'd ever see it, but even Steve Murphy beat Flaherty.

Flaherty instead had an impressive performance in his Mayoral run. He should have been patient and instead trying to get back on the council, he should have launched a 2nd Mayor Campaign two years early in 2011, built a true grassroots campaign and acted as sort of a "shadow mayor." It would have given Flaherty an edge and he would have been the clear favorite to win in 2013.

So as Jake LaMotta said, Flaherty "could've been a contender," but instead if he loses again or does not finish strong he could become irrelevant.

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