Menino to Face Flaherty in November General Election

Filed in Featured, Headline, Local News, Politics by on September 22, 2009 0 Comments

It looks more and more like Mayor Thomas Menino is on his way to an unprecedented fifth term in office. With every precinct reporting, Menino placed first amid the four candidate field with 51 percent of the vote in his favor. His closest challenger, and the man he will now face in November’s general election, City Councilor Michael Flaherty, received about half that with 24 percent.

Sam Yoon and Kevin McCrea rounded out the field of contenders with 21 percent and four percent, respectively.

The fact that Menino placed first in this primary election should be no surprise; the man has been a powerful force in the city for the past two decades. He has had his share of controversy and weathered several imbroglios, but has also presided over a huge drop in crime and the revamping of some of Boston’s most underserved neighborhoods. Perhaps more importantly, he has strong ties to just about every important figure, politically and socially, in the city.

Yet that is exactly the argument his opponents tried to make: that Menino is an entrenched politician who, though maybe not corrupt, is at least deeply embedded and even more deeply indebted to Old Tyme Boston Politics. For the past few months, the opposition, and Yoon in particular, tried to make the case that Menino has been around too long to be effective as a leader. At times it seemed like Yoon was a vampire with his constant calls for fresh blood at the city’s helm.

There was some criticism of the mayor’s policies, though it was for the most part on technical differences; on major issues, the candidates are almost indistinguishable. This left the challengers with little save the awkward platform of, “Yes, Menino has done some good, but maybe I could too.”

Whatever the reason, the Anyone but Menino message was a bust. Maybe Yoon or Flaherty could have had a shot at toppling the incumbent had the other not jumped in the race, though I doubt it. There are few things harder to do in politics than best a popular incumbent, let alone a popular one in a primary election. Menino’s advantage in name recognition alone was practically enough to guarantee a win.

Looking forward to the general election, it is all but certain Menino will once again be reelected to guide the city for another four years. Despite an unusually high turnout of around 23 percent, Menino’s challengers still struggled to match half his vote tally. For both Flaherty and Yoon, today was a do or die contest. Their supporters knew this, too, and swarmed the polls in hopes of getting their candidate on the November ballot. It’s impossible to tell for sure, but it’s most likely that Menino’s supporters were more comfortable staying home, confident of an easy victory.

So, even assuming every Yoon supporter and then some line up for Flaherty, Menino should still take the general election in a cake walk. Maybe Flaherty will run an impressive campaign over the next month and somehow distinguish himself from the mayor in some other way besides appearance and the spelling of their names (While the mayor spells his name M-E-N-I-N-O, I spell my name F-L-A—you get the idea.) Even that will probably only secure a slightly better showing.

As an early prediction, I’m calling 62 percent for Menino, 37 for Flaherty, and one percent for Mickey Mouse.

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