At-Large Notes And Thoughts

13 hours until polls open in Boston....

--In 2005, there were 15 names on the ballot for at-large. But the bottom 7, who were knocked out, were non-factors: combined they received just over 13% of the total votes cast. (There were 40,802 ballots, with 128,246 total votes.) The top vote-getter in the prelim (Flaherty) took just about 14% of the votes, while the 8th-place (Ed Flynn) took close to 9%. Then there was a huge gap to 9th place, which was perennial candidate Althea Garrison, who got less than 4%. This year, the bottom 7 will almost certainly take a lot more of the vote than in '05. That means it should take less than 9% to make the top 8. So, let's say 60,000 people vote, averaging a little over 3 votes per ballot. That's 200,000 votes. Let's say it takes 7% to make the cut; that's 14,000 votes. But that's 14,000 different voters -- or 23% of the total. You gotta get marked by nearly a quarter of all voters just to survive tomorrow? Yipe!!! Most of these challengers started with name-recognition below 5%. I'm not sure what my point here is, but it's a daunting task for even the best of these unknowns. 

--You know what helps get you marked on 23% of ballots? Knocking on 80,000 doors. That's why some folks I talk to think that Doug Bennett will get into the top 8 tomorrow.

--When I first heard that Robert Fortes was thinking of running for at-large Boston City Council, I was intrigued. But I kind of lost interest as he failed to raise much money and didn't seem to be popping up on the radar of people I talk to. But with his endorsements from both the Globe and Herald, perhaps he's got a shot at getting through the preliminary. His father is extremely well-respected in parts of the city (I've run into several people who said they're voting for him b/c of his dad), and he's an impressive, very likeable guy in person. Whether he can do well enough to be a factor, despite a lack of organizational ground game, is another story.

--Both Ego Ezedi and Ayanna Pressley have made public statements against bullet voting (Ezedi on Facebook, Pressley on Blue Mass Group), and Felix Arroyo told me he's speaking out against the practice as well. What they, or some of their supporters, may be doing privately I don't know, but I do think that a line may be getting drawn that could have a post-prelim effect. If, after the prelim, any of the minority candidates try to join forces to create a "slate," I suspect that they will be disinclined to include any candidate who they know has been courting bullets.

--Speaking of Ezedi... the poor guy's got an obvious dilemma trying to please both the (generally conservative) black ministers whose support he needs, and the progressives whose votes he wants.  Seems to me he's tried meeting the progressives more than half-way, with full support of gay marriage, pro-choice on everything but parental notification for young teens, and opposition to the BU biolab that he was once spokesperson for. But with so many other options, why should progressives settle? The remaining differences are enough to have cost him some endorsements, and probably quite a few progressive votes.

--Andrew Kenneally has run a very effective campaign, and he speaks knowledgably and passionately about the city's issues. But I think it may be off-putting to voters that he defines his candidacy first and foremost by his terrifying battle with a brain tumor last fall. Don't get me wrong -- I have tremendous empathy and admiration for him, and it's certainly part of his story that deserves a place in his pitch. But I think it may be a political mistake to lead off with it, and to make it his 'why I'm running' answer. To me, it comes across a little like he's trying to get your vote out of sympathy (which I don't believe is his intention), and also a little like he's running for personal (ie selfish), rather than public-service reasons (which is really true of almost all candidates, but it's comforting to voters that they pretend otherwise).

--I get the sense that there are some campaigns hoping that Tomas Gonzalez ends up as odd man out, falling short of the top 8. Why? Because he's got one of the better organizations around, and other campaigns would love to get a shot at recruiting that talent.

--If you're looking to gather with the candidates' supporters tomorrow night, here's where they'll be (the ones I know of so far): Arroyo, James Gate in JP; Connolly, Robyns in Roslindale; Ezedi, Ezedi HQ in Dorchester; Gonzalez, Dogwood Cafe, JP; Jackson, Charlesmark Hotel in Back Bay; Kenneally, the Corrib in W. Rox; Murphy, Doyle's in JP; Pressley, Tavolo in Dorchester.

--The campaign hasn't exactly been a social-media frenzy. Of the at-large council candidates, only Tito Jackson has done any significant tweeting. He has a total of 249 tweets; next is Andrew Kenneally at 72. John Connolly has the most followers, with 647, although they're not getting much out of it -- he's tweeted all of 27 times. Kenneally has 463 followers; Jackson 443, and next is Pressley with 114. Also, most of them don't follow more than a couple dozen people from their account. Over at Facebook, Jackson leads with 2045 fans on his FB page, followed by Kenneally at 1356 (group members), Connolly 1136 fans, Pressley 1103 fans, and Felix Arroyo 1017 group members
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