Thursday, September 24, 2009

Voter Triggers

If not stunning, a few anomalies in Tuesday's returns in Boston seem odd, amusing or both. One theme did resonate though — I know him.

Consider:
  • Doug Bennett. The scooter guy surprised many, certainly me, by making the preliminary cut from 15 to 8 city council candidates. He's a crypto Republican, maybe born in Boston but really from Cape Cod, who has well-duh issues (clean streets, low crime, low property taxes, better jobs) with no plan to achieve anything. There's no way for him to get 5% of the vote, 10, 519, to come in seventh. But wait, there was a way and it was his unique way. He putted around street by street, greeting, knocking, ringing, chatting and putting in face and handshake time for months. That's retail campaigning at its most basic, the Fuller Brush/Avon retrograde method. It worked for him.
  • Chuck Turner. The often paranoid, grammatically challenged Harvard grad is nothing if not theatrical and hyperbolic. Everything's a plot, including his federal corruption indictment, and if it's a plot against him, it's also against all American-American Bostonians and all voters in his district. He proclaimed that his over 50% preliminary results are a mandate (his word). He campaigns that he is bald, bold and bright. The bread in that sandwich are doubtful claims, but the bold is very accurate. He somehow has managed to translate his extreme left rhetoric and weird allegations into one-of-us for the voters. The much more stable and really bright Tony Henriquez is likely to be overwhelmed by voters who inexplicably stick with Chuck.
  • Tom Menino. As odd as it seems to type it, Da Mare shares a benefit with Bennett. People know him. They know his face and hand and voice and works. He's huge on constituent services and bigger still on presence. Previous Mayor Ray Flynn chased cop cars and fire trucks. Menino seems ubiquitous in chasing each of us. Seemingly to our voters having touched the hem of his garments is more powerful than any campaign promise or platform plank. He loves direct interaction with voters.

Writing of the mayoral contest, voters have one more chance for change. They fairly rejected it in a reverse spectrum on Tuesday, but Michael Flaherty has his final sprint to the November 3rd general. He carries the tremendous weight of Meninos affable popularity, despite a seeming majority of voters vaguely to solidly unhappy with commonweal of the city.

That spectrum ran from Kevin McCrea to Sam Yoon to Flaherty to Menino, from revolution to extreme system evolution to tweaking to stasis. The intellectually intriguing and wonderfully wonky Yoon came close to the final (21% of the vote to Flaherty's 24%), but voters went down the spectrum, avoiding the change they claim to desire.

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