Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Once and Future Kinglet?

I guess I just can't keep from speculating. The Boston City Council at-large seats are up for preliminary in late September, candidates still have time to announce, and we don't know how many will get the 1,500 confirmed registered voters to qualify. Yet...

A few ruminators have already chewed up and spit out the odds. They figure of the 13 candidates so far, of those who qualify and the eight who advance from the preliminary, the four eventual winners will come from the big five:
  • Felix Arroyo, first-term incumbent
  • Ayanna Pressley, first-term incumbent
  • Steve Murphy, Council President and big vote-getter last time
  • John Connolly, the top vote-getter
  • Mike Flaherty, former Councilor and Council President who unsuccessfully challenged Mayor Tom Menino last year
Among those elbowing to join the magic quintet, a few are intriguing. Will Dorcena, brother of state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, told the Dorchester Reporter's Gintautas Dumcius that he'll win by wearing out his shoes making himself known. A couple more increasingly familiar candidates include Kevin McCrea, self-styled gadfly, and libertarian Sean Ryan, both of who have run for city office before, respectively Mayor and Councilor.

Yet, it is Flaherty who is creating buzz in no small party by buzzing around. While the four incumbents are collecting campaign funds and speaking to supporters, he is media ubiquitous. The Globe and Herald have featured him. This week alone, his appearances included, Greater Boston with Emily Rooney and BU's NNN with Chris Lovett.

Crank up those two videos. Be amazed at the consistency and fluidity of his messaging. He hits exactly the same points with the same phrases. He is far more focused than you or I. His opponents will know precisely what he will stress before September and November.

For one unusual example, consider the bound-to-fail-in-college BPS graduates. I have not heard and remain to be convinced that non-exam-school BPS diploma holders can't cut even the first semester of college. Flaherty states that repeatedly, consistently and with great assurance.

He would be the Councilor to change that. The emphasis on early-childhood education is great, but, hey, if our kids are surrounded by great colleges, but they can't begin to get degrees from them if they can even get it, what's the point?

Neither Rooney nor Lovett had time or apparently inclination to ask him to back that up. I'm sure other candidates, particularly the chair of the Council's Education Committee, Connolly, will challenge him to prove that and other assertions.

Likewise he falls into the Councilor Catch-22. He says he'll come in as legislator and make the right things happen. Yet, he cites soaring school transportation and unionized city-employee health costs when he was Councilor and President. So is it powerful now but powerless then?

Regardless, I think it's time to have Councilor candidates on Left Ahead again. If the other guys won't ask, we shall.


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