Q& A #4: City Council Challenges


"Michael" seems to think it's Ask Me Everything Day (just kidding!):

Which district city councilors will have legitimate challenges this year? Why did you get Mike Pence so totally wrong? Why are all the Republican candidates for president waiting, waiting, waiting to announce? Regarding legislation last year to keep govt offices open on the two hack holidays:  Why don't our legislators know how to write legislation anymore?

OK, first off, I don't think I got Pence wrong -- I still think he had a great chance to win the Republican Presidential nomination if he ran, and from what I gather he was very, very close to running, but the open Indiana governor's seat ultimately proved too tempting.

As for the slow start to the GOP Presidential campaign, part of it was definitely the uncertainty about Sarah Palin, as well as the attempts to ascertain the likelihood of Obama losing in 2012 (which affects not only their own desire to run, but their funders' willingness to give). There was also a determination by folks like Romney, Pawlenty, and Gingrich that they'd be better off doing early campaigning via PAC-funded book tours rather than opening a Presidential committee. Plus, I think there was a realization after 2008 that a full-scale Presidential campaign burns up an ungodly amount of money in those early months, unneccessarily. Romney could easily have gone early, but didn't want to be out there as the frontrunner alone taking all the shots, so he waited for the rest of the field. Pawlenty, Barbour, and whoever else is really running chose to skip the first quarter fundraising cycle, and will make the Q2 finance reports the "first primary" of the cycle.

On the hack holidays: who says they ever knew how to write legislation? (Or, maybe they wanted to accidentally pay a bunch of overtime to city employees?)

Now, to your first and best question, on the city council district races. Sadly -- for political journalists like me -- I don't see much. Suzanne Lee is mounting a serious progressive/South End/Chinatown campaign in District 2, but is unlikely to come close to knocking off Bill Linehan -- especially in a low-turnout election, and really especially if Michael Flaherty runs at-large, guaranteeing a big Southie turnout. There are candidates rumbling around Maureen Feeney's Dorchester district in hopes that one of the rumors about her not running again ends up being true, but if she runs for re-election she should win easy. Cornell Mills says he will go for a rematch against just-elected Tito Jackson, but those are very long odds. His big winning % should scare others off -- and ditto with Matt O'Malley. I hear occasional whispers about possible challengers to Yancey, or Ciommo, or Ross, but nothing to get them shaking in their boots.

So basically, this could be the most lackluster city election of all time, with all 13 councilors returning -- unless of course Flaherty jumps into that at-large race, in which case a city-wide bloodbath ensues.

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