Voters Battle Weather, Indifference

As if turnout for today’s city council elections wasn’t going to be dismal enough, the skies just turned black and opened up. It’s absolutely pouring. Best case scenario for voter turnout in this stillborn race was an estimated 30 percent, a more realistic prediction was more like 25 percent. Will it go even lower because of the rain? Yes, unless the recent flap over anonymous hit letters rouses the voters to swim out to the polls.

The flap, as those who have been following the race recently (anyone?), is literally the only interesting thing that has happened over the course of this entire campaign season. It surrounds at-large contender John Connolly, whose campaign sent out a number of anonymous mailings attacking incumbent at-large councilor and Mayor Menino loyalist Steve Murphy.

Murphy is more vulnerable than his fellow at-large councilors, (which is saying something, considering that Felix Arroyo has seemingly stopped caring about whether he’s re-elected), thus, Murphy’s the guy Connolly will knock off if he’s successful. It’s no secret that Murphy has seldom seen a job he didn’t want, and Connolly has been hitting him for this routinely. Google “John Connolly” and the Google ad that comes up coyly reads: “Looking for a City Councilor who wants the job?”

That’s why the Connolly campaign’s decision to send out the anonymous mailing was so mystifying. They weren’t, after all, really sliming Murphy so much as restating what everyone already knows. Christ, in the most recent example, Murphy has been tirelessly lobbying Deval Patrick for a new job since he’s been in office, and when one was finally offered to him, he turned it down because the Gov wouldn’t let him do that and keep his council job (and $90K salary).

Moreover, it’s widely rumored around City Hall that Murphy is a key source for Howie Carr, evidenced perhaps by the fact that when he appears in Carr’s column, his name isn’t followed by a litany of fat layabout jokes. He may be the only local pol Carr doesn’t savage on a routine basis, even though he’s precisely the kind of guy Carr lives to go after.

Naturally, when news of the mailing broke, it broke in Carr’s Sunday column. The Globe picked it up today, hitting Connolly twice on the same page for the caper. As the Phoenix’s David Bernstein points out, the Connolly campaign really didn’t need to do this. And between Carr and the media’s need for some kind of drama, any kind of drama, they should have seen the backlash coming.

Still Connolly’s been endorsed by the Globe. In fact, he was the only at-large candidate endorsed by the Globe. Plus, he got the nod from the Herald, which will help him out today. I personally like Connolly, I think he’s got brains and a lot of energy, and I hope he takes it. But if he loses because of this boneheaded maneuver, it’s hard to feel that sorry for him.