New Boston gets to vote for old Boston in November

What’s old is new again in Boston. John Connolly and Marty Walsh, two middle-aged white men of Irish descent, will go into the general election to succeed to Mayor Tom Menino. A New York Times headline says it all: “Tradition Trumps Diversity in Boston Mayoral Vote.”

The inability of five of the minority candidates to step aside and unite behind one of the eventual top minority finishers, Charlotte Golar Richie, Felix Arroyo, or John Barros, who finished third, fifth, and sixth in the 12-candidate race, means they can spend the weeks ahead contemplating what might have been.

Most of the candidates went at issues with pure abandon. Rob Consalvo touted rubber sidewalks. Mike Ross, in the best ad of the preliminary, ran around tossing out copies of his campaign plan. Connolly hammered home his strong education message. And if anyone thinks labor unions are dead, they haven’t talked to Walsh.

Golar Richie was cautious to an extreme. As David Bernstein and others have noted, that so talented a woman ran such an incredibly lackluster campaign is completely mystifying.

Her third place finish is proof enough that if she had dug down deep and harnessed what it takes to run a winning effort, she could have been a contender in November. Or as the American Spectator’s Aaron Goldstein points out, referring to actor Louis Gossett Jr.’s ad for Richie, “it would have been more effective if he had put on a drill sergeant’s uniform and used a rubber hose.”

Boston could have had an African-American or a Latino in the final round if there had been any consensus on who that person should have been. That neither Arroyo or Barros heeded the pleas of some black ministers to unite behind Richie is not surprising. Why should two smart, energetic men with bright political futures get in step behind a woman who squandered a rare gift in Massachusetts politics: a civilized, issue-oriented campaign?

UMass Boston’s Paul Watanabe, a veteran Bay State political observer, told the Times, “One of the tests of the ‘new Boston’ is not only in the numbers but in whether the political leadership, the face of that leadership, can match that diversity.”

Eyes may fall now on Richie to see if she can use her defeat to become that political leader. But Barros and Arroyo, equally eager to take up the new Boston leadership challenge, are unlikely to sit around while she tries to carve out her niche.

Political redemption is possible for Richie if she wants it. For evidence, look no further than Attorney General Martha Coakley.  A woman whose political epitaph had been written three years ago dusted herself off and went back to the arcane world of subprime mortgage lawsuits and initiative petitions to get back on track. After announcing her candidacy for governor, she put her infamous comments about Fenway Park behind her with a stop at the ballpark to press the flesh.  

In Public Policy Polling’s first 2014 gubernatorial poll, Coakley has the highest favorability rating among Democrats and comes out ahead of Charlie Baker in a one-to-one match up. Whether Coakley can stay there — or get back to Yawkey Way for Frozen Fenway 2014 remains to be seen. But if she does, Richie should join her to see how redemption gets done.

                                                                                                                                         –GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

House lawmakers plan to vote on repeal of the so-called tech tax on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

Attorney General Martha Coakley and most of the country’s other AGs seek regulation of electronic cigarettes by the Food and Drug Administration, NECN reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy comes out in opposition to a plan to let a private firm operate the Gannon Municipal Golf Course. Kennedy, up for reelection, says she fears a private operator would raise rates too high, the Item reports.

Milton officials are considering changes to the town’s government structure after a state review made 32 recommendations to streamline department oversight, strengthen the job of town administrator, and tighten fiscal controls.

The Weymouth Town Council has requested the town auditor to examine the records of the tri-town agency overseeing the redevelopment of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Base after councilors expressed skepticism about the agency’s claim it has corrected all the problems cited in a scathing state audit.

Ben Forman. executive director of MassINC’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute, calls for the Legislature to pass a bill that would pump redevelopment money into Gateway Cities to rehab aging housing and industrial buildings in an effort to reboot the economies in those struggling urban areas.

A 655-page report from an independent investigator finds that the former Freetown building inspector, who left amid charges of ethical breaches and possible conflicts in his post, did nothing illegal, but the report says he was rude and abrasive to the public.

Dead men tell no tales. They do, however, apparently read them. New Bedford officials are trying to figure out how the library cards of two deceased city residents were renewed years after their deaths, with books continuing to be borrowed with the cards and racking up thousands of dollars in late fees.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz continues his filibuster against Obamacare, at one point reciting Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham, Time reports.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the resurgent liberal Democratic wing that’s putting heat on President Obama. Sen. Elizabeth Warren figures prominently.

ELECTIONS

Rep. Marty Walsh and City Councilor John Connolly top Boston’s 12-way preliminary fight, and advance to November’s mayoral final. Walsh comes out for his victory speech to the Dropkick Murphys singing I’m Shipping Up To Boston. Connolly’s speech is more low-key, targeted at those tuned in on TV. Walsh vows to keep up his grassroots-focused campaign approach — detailed in CommonWealth’s summer issue. The Globe has a first cut at the paths that took Walsh and Connolly to victory last night.  

Connolly eyes citywide coalition-building. Peter Gelzinis urges the two finalists to rip off their rivals’ old ideas; Gelzinis believes Bill Walczak, Felix Arroyo, Mike Ross, and John Barros all offered platforms for moving the city forward. Larry Harmon follows a similar tack, outlining important roles some of the vanquished could play in the city’s future. The Herald editorial page, which endorsed Connolly and issued a rare un-endorsement to Walsh, tips its hand on its final mayoral pick. Walsh was already out pressing the flesh this morning before the sun was up, before repairing for breakfast and coffee to his diner-based office, McKenna’s Cafe. David Bernstein says the two finalists, Hibernian heritage notwithstanding, both represent “newish” Boston.  Here is the final Boston tally. CommonWealth’s complete coverage of the mayoral race is here.

Former state Rep. Mike Cahill wins 57 percent of the vote in the Beverly mayoral preliminary election, the Salem News reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Gloucester Times profiles a family financially devastated by the fishing crisis.

JP Morgan offers to pay $3 billion to make federal lawsuits over housing-boom-era mortgage bonds disappear.

The Fall River City Council calls on Mayor Will Flanagan to appoint a director of tourism, calling the industry critical to the city’s future.

CASINOS

Leominster voters approve a slots casino by a margin of 5,235 to 3,206, the Telegram & Gazette reports. Here is the Globe account of the referendum.

EDUCATION

State colleges are shifting more financial aid to students who need it less, the New York Times reports.

A contrarian call for your morning reading: American kids need more testing, says Ezekiel Emanuel.

TRANSPORTATION

Logan International Airport unveils its new rental car center, which will serve nine companies with a four-level garage, the Associated Press reports (via WBUR).

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Is Cape Wind being priced out of the market?

The Wall Street Journal editorial page rushes to the defense of coal.

Meet the Author

Gabrielle Gurley

Senior Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz joins Worcester law enforcement officials in supporting a program designed to keep released prison inmates from reoffending and returning to jail, the Telegram & Gazette reports.