The challenge for Marty Walsh

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh may be getting a free pass so far with the lack of opponents to his reelection but don’t confuse that with his first term going unexamined and unchallenged.

While the only name so far that anyone hears for taking on Walsh is City Councilor Tito Jackson, there is a growing willingness among pundits and activists to hold the mayor’s feet to the fire. Though $3.4 million in the bank will do a lot to cool off the flames of challengers, it won’t help shield Walsh from those who think a life unexamined is no way to reelect a mayor.

Boston magazine’s David Bernstein has a piece in the latest issue wondering why, with the list of stumbles such as the 2024 Olympics, the IndyCar fiasco, the federal indictment of two aides, and racial problems at Boston Latin School, more challengers haven’t surfaced. Bernstein highlights Walsh’s support from power players such as state Rep. Nick Collins, and city councilors Bill Linehan and Michael Flaherty, who either backed Walsh opponent John Connolly or weren’t in his camp the first time around.

“At a time when contenders should be amassing imposing campaign war chests to dethrone the king, the election so far looks like a game of Red Rover, with only one team lined up,” Bernstein writes. “But why? At least on paper, it seems odd, even shocking, that aspiring wannabes would let Walsh coast to a second term without a fight.”

At the same time, the Globe on Monday ran a story that a proposal for a major Walsh reform on municipal lobbying in City Hall languishes in the City Council with no push by either the administration or the council to get it out, allowing lobbyists to continue to perform their work under the radar and unregulated.

Much of what is working in Walsh’s favor is the fact there are historical obstacles to challenging an incumbent mayor with reelection baked into the process. Prior to Walsh’s election, there were just three mayors in the previous 45 years and even Walsh acknowledges the power of the fifth floor does wonders to tamp down outside aspirations.

“We were all kind of waiting,” Walsh tells Boston about the large field of candidates after the late mayor Thomas Menino decided to step aside after 20 years. “If the mayor ran another term, my window might have closed… There’s a lot of newer politicians out there. They’re deciding, is this their time, or do they wait?”

Rev. Bruce Wall has organized a radio forum this week on “how to elect the next mayor” with the focus on the Walsh administration fighting complaints by six black Boston police officers who were fired over a controversial drug test of hair samples. Wall is also planning to put all city councilors on the record for the issue and has vowed to help enlist challengers for the seats. He said he intends to send a questionnaire to both Walsh and the council that he says will be a barometer of their stances on the black community.

“If they do not respond, we’re going to take a very strong stance saying, ‘So you do take the black community for granted, and you don’t think you’re accountable to the black community,’” Wall told the Boston Herald.

Despite Walsh’s vow to be the anti-Menino when it comes to grudges and slights, the Wall effort is rubbing the mayor the wrong way.

“He has not reached out to me on that stuff, so he’s being critical of the administration without reaching out,” Walsh told the Herald. “And when I knew he was in trouble for his radio station, we reached out to him. So I’d appreciate it if we maybe we’d be able to have a little more dialogue.”

Walsh may be showing a bit of a crack in the armor.

–JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

The Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan lays out Gov. Charlie Baker’s vulnerabilities for his reelection in 2018, including being on the wrong side of two ballot questions, problems with the MBTA, and the razor-thin margin of victory in 2014. (Keller@Large)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Islamic cemetery in Dudley appears to be moving forward again. (Telegram & Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Sen. Elizabeth Warren unloads on education secretary-designate Betsy DeVos and signals that she’ll give her a good grilling at her confirmation hearing on Wednesday. (Boston Globe)

Senate Republicans insist they’ll go full bore on the confirmation process for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees despite what Senate President Mitch McConnell terms the “little procedural complaints” by Democrats that the vetting for most is still incomplete. (New York Times) Celebrities needle Trump at the Golden Globes. (Time)

A Herald editorial doesn’t think much of Rep. Katherine Clark’s plan to boycott this month’s presidential inauguration. Here is a CommonWealth Download on the same topic from last Friday.

Two views of President Obama’s legacy: The Globe’s Jeff Jacoby laments a trail of disasters, while a Berkshire Eagle editorial lauds the outgoing leader.

Renee Loth spotlights the new federalism being embraced by liberals who see state and local government as the defenders of progressive policy in the Trump era. (Boston Globe)

ELECTIONS

Was Charlie Baker privately ‘With Her”? Though the state’s Republican governor staked out a public stance of studious neutrality, it’s easy to see how a Hillary Clinton win might have provided him smoother sailing than the ultimate victory by his own party’s intemperate new standard-bearer. (CommonWealth)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren announces she is running for reelection in a fundraising email. (CommonWealth)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Ten years ago today, Apple introduced the iPhone, which changed communication and the cellphone industry forever. (U.S. News & World Report)

Neighbors are opposing plans of a Harwich farm owner to expand his farm and operate a slaughterhouse on the site for locally produced beef, pork, and poultry as well as an aquaculture pond. (Cape Cod Times)

EDUCATION

With the defeat of the November ballot question to expand charter schools, Pioneer Institute’s Jim Stergios asks whether charter foes will embrace the sort of far-reaching reforms in district systems that have made charters such academic overachievers? (CommonWealth)

George Donnelly lays out why he thinks Suffolk University is stronger than you might think. (CommonWealth)

Full-time enrollment at North Shore Community College has fallen 20 percent over the last five years. (Salem News)

Construction of a new elementary school in Hopkinton is underway but officials says it is too small for projected enrollment and will need to be expanded. (MetroWest Daily News)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Paul Hattis, an associate professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine, examines the “Partners premium” and the many tall tales of the state’s largest health care system. (CommonWealth)

Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell pens a Globe op-ed decrying Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act “without knowing what comes next.”

With frozen Massachusetts residents dreaming of Caribbean getaways, state health officials are warning them to be wary of bringing back the Zika virus as a souvenir. (GateHouse News Service)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA is preparing to finalize a deal to outsource for $28 million the management of its parts warehouse and inventory system to a Virginia company. (Boston Herald)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Stoughton officials said  E coli bacteria was found in samples taken from a raw water source but said residents shouldn’t worry about drinking tap water. (The Enterprise)

A gas leak at Spectra Energy’s metering station in Weymouth has heightened worries over the company’s proposed compressor station on the Fore River. (Patriot Ledger)

A liquid battery holds potential for unlimited energy storage. (WBUR)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Lowell Sun editorial blasts Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office for missing a filing deadline by 11 days and allowing a Level 3 sex offender to walk free.

Attorney General Maura Healey and Cape & Island District Attorney Michael O’Keefe are asking a court to dismiss a right-to-die lawsuit filed against them by a Falmouth physician with metastatic prostate cancer, saying it’s an issue that should be taken up by the Legislature. (Boston Globe)

Lost in the cacophony over Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson’s plan to offer inmates to build the wall on the Mexican border was his declaration to revive the $5 a day fee on inmates that was thrown out by the Supreme Judicial Court. (Herald News) Trevor Maloney says Hodgson’s proposal is all about self-promotion. (CommonWealth)

A new requirement has all municipal police officers in the state receiving training on dealing with people suffering from dementia. (Boston Globe)

PASSINGS

Roxbury native, jazz critic, First Amendment absolutist, and confirmed contrarian Nat Hentoff has died has age 91. (Boston Globe) Dan Kennedy reposts his 1996 interview with the Northeastern grad about Hentoff’s years at the iconic jazz magazine Down Beat. (Media Nation)