The "Save My Campaign Funds" Petition

Last week in this space, I ridiculed the suggestion that one of the nine at-large city council candidates should remove himself from the race, to save the city from a preliminary election required to trim the field to eight. Thankfully, the city council has come up with a more egalitarian solution. A home-rule petition being introduced by at-large councilor Steve Murphy, along with council president Maureen Feeney and outgoing district councilor Jerry McDermott, would allow the city to skip the prelim altogether this year, and place all nine candidates on the final November ballot.

Quite reasonable, and would save the city an estimated half-million bucks to boot if the council passes it and the state legislature OKs it.

But there is a slightly seamy side to this. Murph, after all, is directly affected by the change. It will mean that he does not have to spend campaign money on the preliminary election. It also theoretically deprives the most formidable challenger, John Connolly, from an opportunity to use a strong prelim showing to boost his campaign. (Not that it worked that way for him last time out.) I guess I would prefer to see the petition pass on the votes of the nine district councilors, and have the four at-large incumbents abstain.

That's a minor qualm, I'll confess. On the other hand, the change would also deny political journalists like myself the usual round of jawboning over the preliminary results, which come conveniently at a time when we usually have very little to talk about. Does nobody stop to consider the effect on us?

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