Those Mayoral Insiders Are Idiots

Now, here’s my take.

Earlier today I gave you the Power Rankings of who Boston’s political insiders think is most likely to win the mayoral election. Now, I’ll tell you what I think of their picks.

I think they’re nuts.

I shouldn’t be so harsh on them, after they were all kind enough to respond to my poll. And they’re not really dummies; they gave very thoughtful and smart explanations for their rankings—and there’s no reason to think I’m wiser than all of them.

Nevertheless …

Look, Marty Walsh is a terrific candidate, with an impressive organization. But at some point the other candidates will start asking rhetorically: “How can you expect labor’s candidate to negotiate union contracts that won’t bankrupt the city?”

I say rhetorically, because it really won’t matter how good Walsh’s response is. All that matters is how many Bostonians hear the question.

So, I think it’s possible that Walsh’s minions get him into the final, and it’s possible that the other candidate who gets through will have an even bigger albatross to carry, but that makes him an underdog to me, not a favorite.

Frankly, I think the biggest key to the race, given the field, is whether Charlotte Golar Richie is up to the task. That’s a big question; she’s playing catch-up in money, organization, and campaign skills. But if she has her act together, and she gets backed by women’s organizations and black-community leaders—and a good share of Menino’s people—she’s very likely to get into the final. And when you match her up against the other candidates, it sure looks to me like she’s the favorite against any of them one-on-one, again assuming that she turns herself into a strong campaigner.

That’s no sure thing, and there’s also a decent possibility that in the end Boston is not quite ready to put a black woman in charge.

That’s why I think it’s slightly more likely that the Most Likely White Guy wins—and, despite what the insiders say, I believe that’s Rob Consalvo.

In the most basic over-simplification: if Boston chooses to replace its super-popular outgoing mayor, rather than embrace a new-Boston change, then it makes sense that they’ll pick the most Menino-esque candidate. And that’s clearly Consalvo.

I think people underestimate Consalvo’s political skills. He has a terrific, loyal base in his district. He’s made significant inroads in East Boston and elsewhere. He has also, I would argue, made more inroads with black residents than any other white guy in the field—and if the final is two white guys, being the more Menino-esque of the two is likely to pay enormous dividends with black voters.

I also think the insiders are way too bullish on Felix Arroyo, who has impressed me but is still awfully young and lacking a real record of accomplishments. (Of course, I’ve vastly underestimated Arroyo’s political skills before.) Ditto with John Connolly, whose path to victory in a crowded field eludes me.

So here are my rankings at the start of the campaign; I suspect I’ll completely change my mind frequently about all of this as we go forward:

1. Rob Consalvo

2. Charlotte Golar Richie

3. Dan Conley

4. John Connolly

5. Felix Arroyo

6. Marty Walsh

7.  Bill Walczak

8. Mike Ross

9. John Barros

10. Miniard Culpepper

  • Boston Observer

    I want a hit of whatever fine product you’re using. These rankings read like someones who has no clue what he is talking about. Saying Arroyo’s record is lacking, while propping up Consalvo, Connolly, and Conley is absolutely laughable. Do not pass go, do not collect a paycheck for this drivel.

  • Laura Henze Russell

    My bad, I shouldn’t have credited you and your respondents with the same sound reasoning and intuition. Yours is much better!

  • Mike
  • Hyoun Park

    It’s hard for me to think Consalvo has any real advantage outside of any access to the Menino machine. That’s enough to win, but otherwise Consalvo hasn’t done enough to be known city-wide. Connolly has done campaigning in the inner city and taken on education, a key topic. I don’t think Connolly would win Dorchester and Roxbury against Richie or Arroyo, but would have a decent shot against just about any other non-Menino machine candidate.

  • Rebecca

    DAVID PORTNOY FOR MAYOR! Viva La Stool, indeed. Can’t ignore him forever, mainstream media.

  • HLPeary

    I think you are pretty astute here, David. Charlotte Golar Richie is the cream of the crop on paper and if she can turn up the excitement and fundraising meter, she could prevail. Arroyo thought hiring Doug Rubin would buy him an E Ticket, but that is not going to happen (Rubin will be the only winner in that bargain) Walsh and the unions may get by Conley and Consalvo in the crowded Primary, but, as you note, the unions may become a liability in the General.