When is the Boston mayoral race going to pick up?

NYC mayoral primary, with vote today, is not boring

WITH LESS THAN three months to go before the Boston mayoral preliminary election, it feels like the campaign is in slow motion.

The candidates are out there talking with voters, meeting at forums, and issuing policy positions. But there’s no sizzle, no clash of ideas. It’s a little boring.

Josh Gee, who worked as communications director for Mike Ross in 2013, the last time there was a wide-open race for mayor, offered the candidates some advice in February that none of them seem to be taking. In a crowded field – there were 12 candidates back then and six major ones today — Gee said a candidate needs to find a way to stand out from the pack. Don’t be afraid to attack your rivals or center your campaign around a single-issue, he urged.

 None of the candidates have gone either route so far, probably because they remain bunched together and are wary of taking a step that could put a bullseye on their back with a large segment of the electorate still undecided. They may also be wary of offending a portion of the electorate if they make it into the two-person final election and need all the support they can muster to win.

City Councilor Michelle Wu, perhaps the best-known candidate for mayor, has been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in every poll so far, but she hasn’t pulled away from the pack. Kim Janey has leveraged her acting mayor status fairly well, but she, too, hasn’t been able to put any distance between her and the other candidates. City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George has also gained some traction by quietly positioning herself as a moderate in a race full of lefties, but she hasn’t embraced that role in a high-profile way by labeling her opponents as too extreme.

It feels like the lull before the storm, as each candidate waits for the best time to make their move.

 Contrast the blandness of the Boston race with the bare-knuckled brawl that has emerged as New York City holds its primary election for mayor today, with 13 candidates running on the Democratic side and two on the Republican. The New York Times reports that the race has centered around “public safety, the economy, political experience, and personal ethics and that in its final weeks became intensely acrimonious.”

New York City is giving ranked-choice voting a shot in the primary, which means if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote initially the candidate with the lowest tally is dropped out and the second choice of his or her supporters receives their votes. The process of elimination continues until a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes, which may not come until next month. 

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The nature of ranked-choice voting, where a sound strategy often relies on candidates currying favor with the supporters of rivals, prompted Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate, and Kathryn Garcia, a former sanitation commissioner, to start campaigning together in the closing days of the campaign in an effort to draft off of each other’s popularity. Eric Adams, a former New York City police officer, state senator, and the current Brooklyn Borough president, accused his two rivals of conspiring to thwart his election because he is Black, a charge they both denied.

The race for mayor in New York City is anything but dull.