Councilor Jackson If You're Nasty

Congratulations to Tito Jackson, who scored a convincing win over Cornell Mills yesterday and will be the new Boston City Councilor from District 7. Topping the 80% mark should make him safe in the rapid-turnaround defense of his seat this fall; Mills is likely to try again, but that's a big mountain to climb, and others will probably stay out.

That said, the low turnout numbers mean that Jackson enters office with considerably less political power than one might have anticipated. Vote totals matter in this town. If you're seen as bringing a large vote, you're a valuable ally for anyone looking to run city-wide, now or in the future -- which applies to almost everybody in Boston politics. Yes, it was a special election, in a weird time of year for an election, but still... if I'm Steve Murphy or John Connolly or even Tom Menino right now, I'm more interested in sucking up to Felix Arroyo or Matt O'Malley than Tito Jackson, given those vote totals.

One other observation: the two newest city councilors, O'Malley and Jackson, took very similar paths to office. They both ran solid but losing races for at-large seats, followed by high-level roles in statewide campaigns (Pagliuca and Grossman for O'Malley, Deval Patrick for Jackson), and then took advantage of mid-term openings to win district seats. One might suggest that both used their out-of-district networks -- for volunteers, name-recognition, and funding -- to overwhelm the in-district competition. (Also note that in both cases the top opponent had the advantage of bloodline networks: Maura Hennigan's brother and Dianne Wilkerson's son, respectively.)

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