The preliminary gauntlet we just pulled through was a fabulously bloodless municipal massacre, the kind of free-for-all preliminary that inspires thrilling political prose, and that makes, breaks and cremates careers. In the process—and certainly in the immediate aftermath—we’ve learned lots about our modern city, like that “labor” and “Irish” are still positive concepts around here, and that the generation of Bostonians that entertains pollsters on landlines is still alive and voting.
Nevertheless, as much as I would like to waste a few inches saluting all the stellar candidates who missed the mark, there’s business to be done, questions to be answered. In the wake of yesterday’s results, there are far more issues raised than scores settled. As such, I’ve some inquiries to get the fall rolling.
Considering the amount of time that last night’s champions—state Rep. Marty Walsh and City Councilor-At-Large John Connolly—have spent pandering to so-called New Bostonians and middle-class families, what’s the fate of poor and struggling people? With compassionate class warriors like Felix G. Arroyo and Charles Yancey out of the tumble, who will better strive to help folks facing foreclosure? How about families that have already been evicted? Better yet—which candidate will shun money from the banks who bent us over? Which will swim in it?
How about ethnic blocs, and who they might support? Did yesterday prove that Boston remains eons away from evolving into a post-racial hamlet? Or was it just a reaffirmation of the weak representation that minorities already have in this city? Or both? Furthermore, since the local media has had months to warm up, will they now realize there is no such thing as a singular minority vote? Might reporters think to differentiate between African-Americans, Latinos, Cape Verdeans, etc.? Will they be forced to learn in covering the blame game that’s already underway between the camps of Charlotte Golar Richie and John Barros?
What does this all mean for schools? Will Stand for Children, the corporate education giant that’s behind John Connolly, now throw money at the race? If that happens, will Walsh get cozy with the Boston Teachers Union? Wouldn’t that be awkward considering how quick the representative has been to tokenize teachers as a union front of which he’s proudly earned the ire? With two finalists who are amenable to charters, how long will it be until Hub schools face the same nightmare as Chicago Public?
While it’s obvious that Connolly has West Roxbury bagged up, and that Walsh runs Dorchester, which candidate will conquer the voter-rich corners of Hyde Park and South Boston? How hard will outgoing Mayor Tom Menino work to mobilize the former, and for whom? Is Hizzoner likely to support Walsh in the shadows? Or does he loathe Connolly less than everyone assumes? Also—where will Readville residents find work now that the back door to City Hall hiring is closing?
What else is up for grabs? And who else? Did yuppies and the coveted startup crowd vote in significant numbers? How about progressives? Cyclists? The gay community? Are those factions more important in the event that Walsh and Connolly split the white Irish vote? Or less? Or will they be marginalized and offered hollow promises over the course of the next month?
And what of the endorsements? Which wound-licking legions that supported losers will risk getting it wrong twice? How many advocacy groups will lamely hedge their bets and back both candidates, and which ones will be bold and pick a horse? Speaking of gambling—how about that East Boston casino? Can we start building tomorrow?
What about the “L” word? Will this battle boil down to a labor versus anti-union dirt match? Or will Connolly throw his back out trying to convince voters that he only loathes the teachers union, and that the rest are fine by him? As for ground game, was the Walsh labor army solely responsible for his tremendous get-out-the-vote effort? Or were a lot of his volunteers also from recovery programs? More importantly, do both or either of those groups have the potential to get even more bodies out for the big dance?
The list of inquiries is endless: Will we bulldoze City Hall? Or will we retrofit it into the world’s ugliest Apple Store? How might the Catholic Church play into this? Will the pope endorse? And the question of the hour: Who will win over the 344 presumably pro-life wackos and ironic hipsters who voted for long shot David James Wyatt?
Answer half of those correctly and you’ll probably be able to guess who the next mayor of Boston will be. Answer all of them correctly, and you might have a chance of beating them yourself in four years.
A former Boston Phoenix staff writer, Chris Faraone is now contributing editor at DigBoston.