Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sudden Prom Date

Sudden prom date Sam Yoon wore the Flaherty Yoon '09 Courage to Change button at yesterday's announcement of a joint campaign to elect Michael Flaherty mayor of Boston. He seemed a true believer too, feeling his buddy in the City Council might win, that then Yoon would become a top advisor called and paid as deputy mayor, and that the pair could co-exist while making the big things happen and disagreeing on some substance.

Probably everyone other than Mayor Tom Menino and his strongest supporters welcome this catalyst into the political soup. Until two days ago, the heat was off, the aroma gone and (complete the metaphors yourself).

Menino is still the alpha dog here, with the accumulated funds, humming hive of worker bees, and voters who either really, really like him or hesitate to change...same effect.

Yet, bless his election-seasoned heart, Menino stopped his campaign's whining about unfair and illegal gimmick allegations. Instead, as the Herald quotes him, "“It’s two against one now...First of all, there’s only going to be two names on the ballot, Mayor Menino and Councilor Flaherty. You still need 50 percent of the vote to win." Likewise, the Globe picked up similar gems, such as Da Mare saying the combo was just "an advertising campaign and asking, "What do you mean ticket?"

It's true enough that voters will smear an oval for Michael Flaherty if so inclined and will find Sam Yoon only in their active imaginations. So, is that enough?

One thing is plain with only five weeks to go. Pundits and barstool experts should stop with the 46% to 51% chat, referring to Flaherty/Yoon and Menino's shares of the preliminary vote. More than twice the voters will surely turn out on November 3rd, including pol-specific loyalists, change-starved neighborhood chauvinists, befuddled always-voters, and the curious. Neither side should take their figures from 9/22 to bed at night.

At yesterday afternoon's blather fest on Left Ahead!, Ryan and I worked over the announcement and some of its implications. We agreed that the new combo is still on track to place behind Da Mare's win, but that it's now a new and very short race. They could nose him out.

Ryan also figures that this won't be won on the airwaves, discounting Menino's biggest weapon of cash for media.

To the point that it's two to one, both sides concur and have stated as much as well. Menino has already squeezed every adult hand in Boston it seems. Flaherty and Yoon have been catching up, but aren't there. They promised yesterday to go everywhere, down to every church basement for example. They'll have to to activate the the inert voters and divert enough others to win.

To be frank, none of the three is a heart-stopping orator. Short of this new combo campaign, they have already displayed and rattled their weapons. Any voter paying attention knows what stuff they have. The only thing new is the joint effort.

Menino is generally smart and particularly politically savvy. He knows enough to publicly express contempt of the quasi-ticket he faces. He also is surely revising his own talking points to undercut this very real threat.

Linky: Chris Lovett has a super piece on prospects at Civic Boston.

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