Tonight is the first mayoral debate, on WBZ at 7:00. (Postponed from last week, due to the death of Ted Kennedy.) But the Phoenix has learned that all four candidates also intend to participate in tomorrow's MassVote mayoral forum at the Reggie Lewis Center.
Mayor Tom Menino had not originally agreed to participate in any of the three MassVote forums. But, as I wrote here a month ago, pressure mounted after a raft of minority-interest groups, and the local Univision station, signed on as co-sponsors.
Menino personally called late last week [Correction: Menino called the previous week, on Aug. 21.] to say that he would participate in this Thursday's forum, says Avi Green, executive director of MassVote. As of this afternoon, people with the Flaherty and Yoon campaigns were unaware that Menino is now planning to be there. Neither MassVote nor Menino's campaign has issued any sort of release about it (Green says MassVote may do so later today), and if I have the timing correct, the decision was made -- or at least acted upon -- in the midst of the Kennedy memorial situation, when everything else going on was lost in the ether.
A Menino spokesperson, confirming the Mayor's plans to participate, emphasized that it is technically a "forum," not a debate. But the format is close enough: all four will be on stage together; they will be asked questions and each given two minutes to respond; and there will be opening and closing statements.
Whatever you want to call it, Univision 27 will be filming it but not broadcasting it live. Plans for rebroadcast are not clear at this time. Menino has not yet committed to participating in either of the other MassVote forums, one of which is scheduled for September 17, and the other in October, after the preliminary election.