Yoon Rises From the Political Grave

Filed in Politics by on September 30, 2009 0 Comments

Sam Yoon is not a zombie, but the man just refuses to die—politically speaking, of course.

Despite Yoon’s poor showing in the mayoral preliminary election last week—he received 21 percent of the vote, finishing third—Yoon still refuses to give up his quest to unseat four-time incumbent Mayor Thomas Menino. So how will Yoon pull off this feat without appearing on the ballot? By joining forces with the preliminary election’s runner up, Councilman Michael Flaherty, to form an epic mayoral tag team to take on Menino, two versus one.

Rumors indicate that Yoon and Flaherty have been spotted practicing their signature moves of pinning term limits and dropkicking bureaucracy into the twenty-first century.

In all seriousness, though, the match-up will be far more mundane than a WWE brawl. Sure, there will be just as much hammed up acting and posturing, and egos the size of station wagons. But the race itself should remain fairly uninteresting.

I joked in a previous post that even if every Yoon supporter backed Flaherty in the November election, Menino would still win; Menino won just over half the vote in the preliminary to Flaherty’s 24 percent and Yoon’s 21 percent. Even now, it’s inconceivable that the pair will emerge victorious. Maybe a few voters who were so torn between Flaherty and Yoon in the prelim that they eschewed both for Menino will, with both their choices merged into one, hop off the mayor’s bandwagon and help swing a miraculous win.

Yet it’s far more likely that the two candidate ticket will come off as a gimmick, a last ditch attempt by two councilmen to do whatever it takes to get Menino out of office. Considering that the challengers’ messages often blurred into a monotonous, “Anyone but Menino” slogan during the summer campaigns, this latest twist in the race feels like a cheap extension of that goal even after it was already rejected handily by voters.

The Menino camp has, obviously, denounced the move as a ploy while raising questions about the legality of a dual ticket. They contended that the position of deputy mayor, the post to which Flaherty has promised to appoint Yoon should he become mayor, is not in the city charter and thus could not be voted on. That should not be an issue, however, so long as Flaherty’s name appears on the ballot alone.

Boston has not had a deputy mayor since the administration of Kevin H. White, who served until 1984.

Ironically, the post Yoon could be appointed to is one his candidacy suggests he would loathe. A major part of his platform called for reining in mayoral powers, though his appointment would represent an unusual use of mayoral authority to effectively create a position within the government.

Boston could benefit from a change in leadership at the top, and Yoon certainly has some good ideas for, to borrow a phrase from the Menino campaign, moving Boston forward. His campaign was exciting, and, with “change” being the political buzzword of the day, an intriguing possibility for a different, better Boston.

However, teaming up with his former rival is not the way for Yoon to seek the changes he envisions. In light of his recent defeat, the move seems less like a genuine attempt at reforming governance and more like a desperate maneuver to grab power any way possible.

In zombie movies, any undead who refuse to stay down are ultimately dealt a gruesome, final blow. By rising once again to stalk the mayoralty, Yoon is only setting himself up for an even more emphatic political trouncing.

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