Today's Globe editorial on the developing Boston mayor's race concludes thusly:
The pattern [i.e., the difficulty mayoral challengers have raising money and mounting serious challenges] promotes complacency. Voters should combat it by demanding
that incumbents--in this case, Menino--submit to multiple debates
with opponents. Those brave enough to challenge the status quo deserve
at least a fair hearing.
Like the editorial writer, I desperately want to see a legit mayoral contest this year. But I'm not so sure the voters are the ones who need to demand multiple debates. Yeah, local civic groups and neighborhood associations can invite the candidates to show up--but if one of them (i.e., Mayor Tom Menino) takes a pass, what's the recourse?
A better solution, I think, is for various Boston media outlets to announce that they're sponsoring mayoral debates--real debates, where the candidates actually share the stage--and then wait for the candidates to show up. If they all do, terrific; if not, the decision(s) to duck debates becomes a story in itself.
And the Globe should lead the way. As Boston's paper of record and the dominant media institution in the state, the Globe can exert pressure on Menino in a way nobody else can. So here's my respectful suggestion to the Morrissey Boulevard brain trust: schedule a few debates (4? 5? 6?) at willing local venues and let the candidates know they're slated to take place. The mayor--who, of course, has every incentive to engage his challengers--might try to weasel out of one of them. But he won't be able to duck them all.
How about it, Morrissey Boulevard?