Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ubiquitous Insidious Mayoral Campaigning

While much is made rightfully over incumbents' advantage, we focus too much on war chests and too little on incessancy. Likewise, we can appreciate the detailed reporting in today's Boston Globe on Mayor Tom Menino's fund-raising advantage. Yet, his handshake total is surely more significant.

Neither City Councilor challenger, Michael Flaherty nor Sam Yoon, is shy. They both go to many public and private events in the city, from business openings to public meetings to funerals. Even here though, through a combination of tenure and tenacity, Menino is more of a presence.

He also has a key advantage in governmental terms. With the strong-mayor form of local politics, constituents know he is more powerful and more likely to act on their big requests than even a Councilor with aides and constituent-services help. My own district Councilor, John Tobin, makes things happen. The mayor can alter the agenda at will.

Consider another horse the Globe like to ride, Menino's high profile. He's more popular than the challengers and nearly everyone has met him. Doing his job with relentless vigor has turned him into the devil we know...and vote for.

I had one of those moments again yesterday, one that should not have surprised me in a town filled with I-met-Tom stories. Number two son and I were out for a bike ride, got hungry and headed for the Lebanese version of lamejun at Cristelle's in West Roxbury. There's no bike rack or even street signs to lock up, so we leaned our wheels against the wall and took an outside table. The waiter chatted up cycling, saying he would like to buy one, a cheap one for short trips to and from the restaurant. I pointed him to the shop on Fairmont in Hyde Park and added that Menino agreed with the health benefits he had mentioned. He quickly shot back that "He's in here all the time, eating breakfast on Sunday."

For some lightweight examples, Menino showed at the groundbreaking for the Hyde Park YMCA (with some of the redevelopment credit rubbing off) and he was at the Bella Luna opening party (3/4 way down; for whom he went to bat with extended hours). Savvier was his walking Dudley Square streets, listening to the locals' safety concerns.

Like so many individual drops, those efforts, all day and every day, fill Menino's bucket of good will. Even when he doesn't solve any problems, being there is huge. It surely outweighs his looming ad campaigns for the September primary and November general elections.

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2 comments:

Judy Meredith said...

Great descriptive narrative, just a little curious about which of the different definitions of the adj insidious you meant. Treacherous? Subtle?

massmarrier said...

Yes, the latter, having a gradual, cumulative effect. I began noticing Menino's cleverness in associating himself with many small improvements and not just big policies that may or may not become real. Together, that provides a perception of a large body of accomplishment. What did the ancient Chinese used to call this, the preponderance of the small, wasn't it?

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