Tuesday, September 29, 2009

From Dirge to Jig in Boston

I promise to lay off the obvious puns, like Yoon-ify, following the announcement that Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon will campaign together as a quasi-official team against incumbent Mayor Tom Menino. Floon is a tempting team name though.

At the official announcement (on an extreme corner of the City Hall Plaza) this morning, preliminary winner of the right to run in the Nov. 3rd general Flaherty and a loser of the same Yoon were jolly. I've seen and spent time with each and found a marked improvement. Flaherty showed great confidence and Yoon has not been as relaxed since the challenge began in the spring.

Looking like so many supersized ice-cream trucks in a row, the white boxy truckss of all major area broadcast media showed for the announcement. They were a shot-put throw away from the spot where in November City Councilor Chuck Turner angrily declared innocence what he said was a conspiracy to frame him for corruption. That's of note only because the crowds at each event were similar sizes, maybe 150.

This time though the minions were hopeful and happy.

The formal announcement is available numerous places, like here (Boston Channel, 12 minutes) It pretty much stuck to the script on Flaherty's campaign site.

The gist is that:
  • Flaherty and Yoon's staffs talked the two days after the September 22nd preliminary.
  • Both sides like the idea of a combined drive to unseat Menino.
  • The two former rivals spent time over the weekend (hence why I didn't see Flaherty on Columbus Ave.).
  • Yoon will campaign with Flaherty.
  • The clear understanding is that if Flaherty wins, Yoon becomes a cabinet-level official with the retrograde title deputy mayor.
This should thoroughly energize the whole election and not just the Flaherty/Yoon side. All of us were ready to bury Flaherty, ceding the election to Menino's popularity, political organization, and hoggy bank of funds. Now, he'll have to hustle to keep his job and while Flaherty is the underdog, he might be able to pull it off.

For Menino's sake, I hope that his staff drops any GOP-style whining about the utter unfairness of the union for the campaign. Any talk of the deputy-mayor thing being "illegal" is sissy and won't stand.

In that vein, it was amusing at today's announcement to hear Flaherty recall when Mayor Kevin White had deputy and vice mayors a couple of decades ago, something no other mayor has used since. Immediately following that comparison, Flaherty said the voters wanted something new. Huh?

By the bye, a big unknown is whether the combo campaign can use Yoon's political checkbook for this last five weeks. TBD.

Regardless, I did hang around long enough to eavesdrop on both Flaherty and Yoon chatting up the press. I ended up asking Yoon something I didn't hear anyone else hit him with. In my own wee interview-ette, he said that being an unelected staff person, hired help as it were, would not be an issue. Not only was he confident that he and Flaherty could work together with their differences, but that the title announced up front implies what his role would be. They would have a joint campaign and if they win, he'd be his real deputy. Yoon said that their joint goals far outweigh any differences and "we'll reflect that after the election."

Earlier he did joke during the press announcement that sure, they'd go on debates together and he'd whisper answers in Flaherty's ear. Much laughter ensued.

Talking Version: Ryan and I kicked this can up and down at Left Ahead! today.

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