Howie’s Friday column
Dark, dank and dreary means sunny forecast for incumbent
By Howie Carr | Friday, November 9, 2007 | http://www.bostonherald.com
Of course Mumbles Menino is running for re-election in 2009. Why wouldnt he - especially considering how marvelously everything turned out Tuesday, especially the turnout, which was just under 15 percent.
When youve been mayor since 1993, the last thing you want is a big turnout. Big turnouts are big trouble for long-term incumbents.
Thats why last year really put the fear of God into Mumbles. In the primary, he figured Deval Patrick, Tom Reilly and Chris Gabrieli would each get about a third of the vote in Boston. Turned out, Deval took the city with 68 percent. Mumbles was shocked, and then, in the final, the turnout was about 40 percent - almost 100,000 Bostonians cast ballots.
Mumbles wanted an end to that trend, pronto. And Tuesday, he got his wish - only 46,000 people turned out on a wet, rotten day. It wasnt so much an election as it was a St. Patricks Day party. And wasnt that a load off Mumbles mind?
Things are looking up again for the Sage of Readville. The Sox win the World Series and he gets to meet all the players like Papelbomb plus he appears on the Jumbotron, which he calls a Jumble-tron (rhymes with Mumble-tron).
Now Mumbles organization has embarked on a massive shakedown - er, fund-raising drive. People are getting knuckled as far west as Worcester. The goal is a half-million by the end of the month, to scare off any potential opponents, who scare easily enough to begin with.
Traditionally the opponent comes out of the City Council, which has always been mostly a bunch of sheep in sheeps clothing. But Mumbles grip on that theater of the absurd seems to be growing even tighter. In Allston/Brighton, a Mumbles minion won the open seat.
Also, the mayor never cared much for the minority councilors Team Unity. Now theres one fewer - Felix No-Show Arroyo went down the tubes. Wednesday, Chuck Turner of Roxbury looked like hed lost his best friend - and he had.
How about Sen. Dianne Wilkerson of Roxbury? She endorsed John Connolly, who ousted Arroyo - made phone calls for him, put her organization on the street, etc. Now shes angry at Deval for campaigning for Murphy. Uh, Dianne, Murphy was re-elected. Your guy, Connolly, took out Arroyo. Sometimes the fault, dear Dianne, is in yourself, not in the Corner Office.
You have to wonder how Mumbles will get along with Boy Connolly. Both Mumbles and Johns dad, Mike Connolly, come out of the old Timilty machine, but arent exactly the best of pals. And now, irony of ironies - Mike Connolly is on the Boston Licensing Board, which hasnt had a pay raise for 14 years, and a Mumbles-controlled board is about to recommend how large their pay raises should be.
These days, with all the new liquor licenses, the Licensing Board may be a more significant body at City Hall than the council. All those new licenses are part of Mumbles dream for the city - no voters, just city workers, and gin mills for the tourists after the victory parades in the duck boats, or ducks, as the mayor calls them.
What Mumbles needs in 2009 is another St. Patricks Day party of an election. He surely doesnt need some movement type, another Deval, to come out of nowhere. No, he needs a Baby Flats Flaherty. Flats got votes from 54 percent of the voters in the council election Tuesday; Mumbles got 67 percent in the mayors fight two years ago. In raw numbers, it was 64,000 for Mumbles, 25,000 for Flaherty.
The smart moneys on Mumbles, but in 2009 Mumbles will be 67 years old, asking the electorate, whoever they are then, for another four years. Flats he can beat, he can probably even take an establishment black like Ralph Martin.
But theres always a tipping point - just ask the 80-year-old mayor of Springfield, Charlie Ryan. Gone, faster than you can say No-Show Arroyo.
I really enjoy Howie’s columns.
I hate to admit it, but local politics is beyond me. It’s more a web of personal loyalties, old feuds, opportunism, back-scratching and such than actual ideological content. I just can’t keep up with that soap opera!