Monday, September 21, 2009

Boston Political Reaper Tomorrow

Not endorsing and not predicting the Boston preliminary races has been really tough. I've had my choices for quite a bit, but this odd off-the-neck and over-the-ears trimming for the Nov. 3rd general does not lend itself to picks.

You can see how badly the Boston Globe blew it with its at-large council endorsements. In particular, they bypassed Andrew Kenneally. I spoke with him in June and went through his material and listened to his stumps as well. The Globe's board went with the two incumbent Irish-American councilors, but picked several several unproven candidates with far less expertise and experience than Kenneally. Numerous cynical observers have commented to me that it's obvious we could use some more racial, gender and cultural diversity on the Council, so the Globe was afraid to pick three white guys. Maybe it is that simple.

I hope he makes the eight candidates for November. For both the mayor and council spots, that six weeks to the general means a whole new campaign and the chance to distinguish platform and personality. It's exhausting to consider even as a spectator.

The mayoral race is odder still, with four major candidates. Perhaps the oddest aspect of all is how the three challengers have appeared so many times in the past two weeks together to accuse Mayor Menino of this or that. I am positive that will make it harder for voters to differentiate one from another when the three are in the get-Tom gang. That is likely to be an advantage for the presumptive leader of trio, who is of course, Irish-American Michael Flaherty.

In many ways, he is more like Menino than Sam Yoon or Kevin McCrea is. If it's Mike and Tom in the last month and a half, it's going to be real hard for Flaherty to provide compelling reasons to dump the devil we know. While he does have different and better ways to do somethings, he'll have a short time to present a preponderance of these to win.

If it were to be Yoon, he'd have a clearer path, but one just as tough. He has steadily pitched systematic change, and in great detail. He's damned smart but he has pulled out a real big pill for voters to swallow. Yoon makes a lot of sense, but are there enough voters who are serious about taking a chance on new ways of governing?

The winnowing tomorrow will set the tone for Boston for years to come. Coupled with the finals in November, this is one of those political cliché moments. We are headed for the government we deserve.

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