Linehan’s total isolation
Bill Linehan held on to his Boston City Council seat two years ago, but it appears that victory cost him the support of much of the city’s political establishment. Now, as Linehan heads into a November rematch against Suzanne Lee , Linehan looks as isolated as any city incumbent has in recent memory.
The Globe endorsed Lee over Linehan today. That was to be expected. Linehan’s district is centered on South Boston, but it stretches from Chinatown through the South End to the edge of the Back Bay. It’s a district that’s seeing remarkable levels of development. New residents are flooding in, and old ones are leaving. Noting the proliferation of condominium complexes around the Broadway Red Line stop, the Globe paints a picture of Linehan’s district as one that’s passing him by.
More surprising, and noteworthy, was yesterday’s Herald endorsement. The Globe’s editorial pages are no haven for old-line Southie pols. The Herald, on the other hand, is a city paper read heavily by Linehan voters. But in the Linehan-Lee race, the Herald lined up alongside the Globe, and was even stronger in its anti-Linehan bent. The tabloid noted that Linehan’s district is “growing and changing and crying out for new leadership.” But it also singled out Linehan for his reluctance to oppose a rich arbitration award for city police patrolmen.
Just as noteworthy, an overwhelming majority of city political insiders surveyed by Boston magazine’s David Bernstein have predicted that Linehan will fall to Lee next week.
Linehan might well survive Lee again. Despite the drastic changes in his district’s demographics — outlined in this CommonWealth piece by Larry DiCara and James Sutherland — traditional voters, not new arrivals, dominated September’s mayoral preliminary. The more old-school the electorate looks, the better Linehan’s chances of reelection are. Marty Walsh’s turnout machine certainly boosts Linehan’s odds. But even if he survives, he survives alone — abandoned by both dailies, and nearly every wiseguy in the city. Two years ago, Peter Gelzinis wrote that a district map that began at Andrew Square and ended at City Point soon wouldn’t be enough to save Linehan, that his political extinction was a question of when, not if. The Southie councilor hasn’t done anything over the past two years to prove Gelzinis wrong.
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