Is it Wu’s race to lose?

BOSTON WILL ELECT a new mayor three weeks from today. Three debates, the first of which comes on Wednesday night, will finally give voters a chance to see the two contenders side by side. 

With those encounters still looming, and no polls yet released on the final election, “I’m not going to bet anybody out or in yet,” said Joyce Ferriabough Bolling, a veteran Roxbury-based political strategist. 

“I’m not willing to say ‘game over’ at this point. There’s a lot of time left,” said John Connolly, a former city councilor who vied in the last race for an open mayor’s seat, in 2013, when he was edged out by Marty Walsh. 

While they both said the race is by no means over, the two seasoned Boston politicos, speaking on a new episode of The Codcast, also agreed that Michelle Wu is the clear favorite over Annissa Essaibi George. 

Connolly supported Andrea Campbell in the preliminary election, while Ferriabough Bolling backed Kim Janey. With the two Black women candidates, who finished third and fourth, out of the running, Connolly and Ferriabough Bolling say the city’s Black voters will now play a pivotal role. 

Wu “has padlocked” white progressive voters, while Essaibi George “has locked down rooted, lifelong white Bostonians,” said Connolly. “Black and brown voters in Boston, both lifelong, rooted Black and Brown residents and newer Bostonians of color, are going to decide this race. And you have to say at this point, with Ayanna Pressley and [Acting] Mayor Janey having weighed in on Michelle Wu’s side, she has a decisive advantage as we go into the closing stretch.” 

Connolly said a coalition made up of white progressives and minority voters has been the winning formula for Boston races in recent years. 

In a campaign that has so far lacked a sharp edge, things like the recent debate over the length of a candidate’s tenure in Boston have received lots of attention. Asked last month in a radio interview whether it matters that she grew up in Boston and Wu did not, Essaibi George said, “it’s relevant to me, and I think it’s relevant to a lot of voters.” 

Essaibi George insisted she was just describing an important part of her biography and not suggesting that Wu’s out-of-state background was somehow disqualifying. 

“I don’t particularly like the signaling of it – I have more knowledge because I’m from here than you,” said Ferriabough Bolling. “It’s the carpetbagger theory, and I just don’t like it.” 

Connolly thought it might have been a play for Black voters. Some polling suggested likely Black voters in the city may be even more receptive to the “lifelong resident” argument than the electorate at large. But he said the comment ignores the reality that Wu “is very much where the sort of center of Boston is today.” Connolly pointed out that the majority of Bostonians were not born here and the fact that “younger Boston is getting more progressive.” 

Policing has become something of a fault line in the race, with Essaibi George winning backing from lots of law enforcement officers, including former Boston police commissioner Willie Gross. Ferriabough Bolling said Boston has escaped the worst of the police-community encounters that have hit other cities, but she said Black voters are still wary of a candidate who is seen as too “cozy” with police. “They’re doing a good job in the middle of the pandemic, but not so good a job policing themselves,” she said of the string of issues involving Boston police officers. 

Connolly said there is less pressure on Wu to turn up the temperature of the race since she’s widely seen as the frontrunner. Essaibi George has to “draw better distinctions if she’s going to mount a real challenge in this final,” he said, “and she’s going to have to start doing it at the debates.” 

MICHAEL JONAS

FROM COMMONWEALTH

 

Cases tainted? The Hampden County district attorney notifies 8,000 criminal defendants that a Springfield police officer connected to their case has also been involved with police misconduct. While defense attorneys say many cases could be dismissed as a result, DA Anthony Gulluni’s office insists the disclosures will have minimal impact. Read more.

School sexual misconduct: Information is scarce on sexual misconduct cases in the Boston school system, as the office charged with investigating the incidents releases no information on them in its annual report. Officials say most of the incidents are minor and are handled at the school level.  Read more.

Carey stepping down: Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey is retiring early next year before the mandatory retirement age. Read more.

OPINION

More housing backed: Despite vocal opposition, Joshua McCabe of Harborlight Community Partners says a silent majority in Massachusetts supports building more housing. Read more.

Dental practices struggling: Bree Simmers, director of marketing at ADA Practice Transitions, says small dental practices face an uncertain future and their decline could have an impact on rural communities. Read more.

RMV criticized: Annelise Araujo, a partner at the Araujo & Fisher law firm, says the process used by the Registry of Motor Vehicles to check immigration status is deficient. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

Senate President Karen Spilka said lawmakers, who have been tussling with Gov. Charlie Baker over the timeline for spending some $5 billion in federal pandemic aid, will be “judged not on how fast we spend the money but on how wisely and efficiently we spend it.” (Boston Herald

Rep. Dan Hunt warns of legal action if lawmakers try to split up Ward 16 precincts in Dorchester as part of redistricting. (Dorchester Reporter)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS 

The town of Lee tells its lone recreational marijuana store that it won’t have to pay its $1 million community impact fee because there was no community impact that required any expenditures by the town. (Berkshire Eagle)

Suspension without pay is set to begin today for municipal workers in Boston who have not been vaccinated or submitted results of a negative COVID test. Late last week about 1,000 of the city’s 18,000 workers seemed to fall into this category. (Boston Herald

Springfield city councilor Justin Hurst charged more than $5,000 to his campaign account for personal expenses. He says he accidentally used the wrong credit card. (MassLive)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Al Copeland was found slumped over the steering wheel by the Boston Police, who assumed he was drunk and arrested him. Only five hours later, after he threw up in his cell, did the police think something was amiss and shipped him off to Tufts Medical Center, where he was assumed to be drunk and left to wait in the emergency room for seven more hours. Only after his wife tracked him down did hospital officials learn he wasn’t drunk but had had a stroke. Copeland is a Black man who recently received a $1.3 million settlement from Boston without even filing a formal lawsuit against the city. (WBUR)

A group of St. Vincent Hospital nurses who have continued to work rather than join the strike explain their decisions. (Telegram & Gazette)

Merck seeks Food and Drug Administration approval for its pill to treat COVID-19. (Associated Press)

A new report shows 716 psychiatric patients are stuck in hospital emergency rooms waiting for care. (WBUR)

ELECTIONS

Lawmakers prepare for the release of new redistricting maps. (Salem News)

Boston Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld calls the Boston mayor’s race “tame and lame,” training most of his fire on Michelle Wu, saying her whole final election campaign is based on “endorsements and press releases touting the latest endorsement.” Speaking of which, Rep. Ayanna Pressley decided to make an endorsement in the race — but it came too late to go to one of the two Black women vying for the open seat, says Joan Vennochi. (Boston Globe) This CommonWealth story at the time of Pressley’s October 1 endorsement of Michelle Wu raised the same point. 

Former Senate president Stanley Rosenberg endorses Anika Lopes for city council in Amherst. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The state’s hiring crunch is getting worse, according to a new report by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Scallop harvesting along the East Coast is down for the second straight year, bad news for the New Bedford fishing industry, where scallops account for about 85 percent of the seafood catch. (New Bedford Light

The Washington Street corridor stretching from Forest Hills to Egleston Square in Jamaica Plain has emerged as a central location for debate over development to address Boston’s chronic housing shortage. (Boston Globe

Jon Gruden, the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, steps down after emails surface from when he was an analyst for ESPN. In the emails, he denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of a gay player, and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem. (New York Times)

Ed Shultz, the former CEO of Smith & Wesson who was ousted after cutting a deal with the Clinton administration, reflects on that decision two decades later. (MassLive)

EDUCATION

Families of at-risk children with serious health problems are struggling to find education plans that work amid the strict limits on remote learning. (Boston Globe

The state’s 15 community colleges reverse course and now say they will require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. (Eagle-Tribune)

TRANSPORTATION

A metal panel fell and narrowly missed a passenger at Savin Hill Station on the MBTA’s Red Line on Sunday night, one stop away from JFK/UMass where a Boston University professor fell to his death last month after accessing a rusted out staircase that was closed. (Boston Herald

Southwest Airlines continued to have problems running its schedule on Monday, as hundreds of cancellations followed thousands over the weekend that inconvenienced huge numbers of passengers. The cause of the problems is unclear. (NPR)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

New York scores another big offshore wind supply contract, as Orsted and Eversource contract with a company to build foundations for their project south of Martha’s Vineyard. The foundations will be assembled at the Port of Coeymans, which is south of Albany on the Hudson River. It’s the second big contract secured by New York — the first was for offshore wind components at the Port of Albany. (Times Union)

A study says 85 percent of the world’s population has experienced weather events made worse by climate change. (Washington Post

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

When people of color go missing, their families say, there is often less of an effort to search for them than when the missing person is white, according to a two-part series at MassLive. A Massachusetts government website lists just two missing persons – both of whom are White – even though a national database of missing persons lists 155 people in the state.

A number of Worcester police officers were accused of serious crimes and still kept their jobs. (MassLive)

MEDIA

New York Times media columnist Ben Smith explores a four-decade argument over objectivity in journalism that has pitted now-retired Boston Globe editorial writer Alan Berger against former Globe reporter Tom Palmer, a debate that may be even more relevant in today’s era of journalism.