Walsh touts his support for Zakim
Cites pledge to open up voting process in explaining snub of six-term incumbent Galvin
MAYOR MARTY WALSH acknowledged on Tuesday that he encouraged Boston delegates to last weekend’s Democratic state convention to support challenger Josh Zakim, who scored an upset victory and won the convention endorsement over incumbent Secretary of State William Galvin.
Walsh was out of the state and didn’t attend Saturday’s gathering in Worcester, but he sent word to Boston delegates that he was backing Zakim, a two-term Boston city councilor, over Galvin, a one-time Brighton state rep who has served six terms as secretary of state.
“I put out there that I’d like to see Josh get some of the votes in Boston,” Walsh said after speaking at an event in downtown Boston early Tuesday afternoon. “I didn’t strong-arm people,” Walsh said, adding a hundred or so Boston delegates voted for Galvin.
“I like some of the ideas he’s talking about with the process as far as getting people involved in the voting process,” Walsh said of Zakim. “I think one of our problems in this country is people aren’t as engaged as they should be in voting.”
The secretary of state is the chief election official in the state. Zakim has vowed to improve the election and voting process, and has criticized Galvin for being slow to support a plan for same-day voter registration in Massachusetts.
Walsh acknowledged that it is unusual for an elected official to back a challenger to fellow incumbent of the same party. He insisted that the move was not payback to Galvin, as some have speculated, for his opposition to changing a state law limiting any new construction in downtown Boston that will cast shadows on Boston Common.
Walsh successfully lobbied the Legislature last year to pass a home-rule petition submitted by the city amending the law in order to allow a new tower to be built on a city-owned parcel at Winthrop Square. At stake for the city: a $153 million payment from the project developer, Millennium Partners.
Asked if he had been upset with Galvin over his position, Walsh said, “Absolutely I was. Of course, I was concerned. I was pretty much public on it. But that has nothing to do with this.”
Walsh’s office pointed out that Zakim, whose district includes Boston Common, also opposed the zoning change. Zakim was one of just three city councilors to vote against the home-rule petition, which 10 councilors supported.
Walsh and Galvin have a long history, which once appeared to be one of mutual political support. In 2001, Galvin was likely 2002 candidate for governor and Walsh, then a Dorchester state representative, was backing him and preparing to help organize Boston precincts on his behalf. In January 2002, however, Galvin bowed out and announced that he would seek reelection as secretary of state.
Soon after news of his pursuit of the county post emerged, Walsh abruptly reversed course and announced he was running for reelection to his state rep’s seat.
Walsh said he has not yet officially endorsed Zakim in the secretary of state’s race, but suggested he will be formally backing him.
Walsh and Zakim both attended an event on Tuesday marking publication of a book on the life of Holocaust survivor Stephan Ross, the main force behind the New England Holocaust Memorial on Congress Street. (The book was co-authored by local attorney and writer Glenn Frank and former South Boston state rep Brian Wallace.)
“I’m grateful for the support we received from the Boston delegates,” Zakim said of Saturday’s convention.
Asked about his discussions with Walsh and an official endorsement from the mayor, Zakim said, “We’ve been talking and I hope to have something more formal soon.”
Galvin did not return messages left with his campaign or State House office.Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said in March that he got an angry phone call from Galvin following his endorsement of Zakim.
Asked whether he got a call from Galvin over his move to boost Zakim, Walsh said, “No, I didn’t.”