With Menino Out, Boston Could See a ‘Big Shift’ Under New Leadership
With Mayor Tom Menino not seeking re-election, experts say the race is on to fill the five-term official’s seat and win the approval of Boston residents—a feat that could prove to be difficult and arduous.
Professor Peter Ubertaccio, political analyst and director of the Joseph Martin Institute at Stonehill College, says what everyone has known all along: that more candidates are bound to step up to the plate an announce their candidacy now that Menino, along with the threat of losing the race, have been eliminated. “You have to go back a long time to see a Boston mayor defeated during a run for re-election,” Ubertaccio says. “They are typically there until they choose to move on. For a lot of folks, this is going to be their opportunity to step in. Once you have a mayor in office, it becomes difficult to dislodge them.”
According to Ubertaccio, who writes regularly for the political blog MassPoliticsProfs.com, the opening could make way for some younger candidates, such as City Councilor Ayanna Pressley and possibly local entrepreneurs.
While this is the beginning of what will certainly be an historic race for the city, Ubertaccio says Menino will go out with grace and praise, much like was seen at his gathering at Faneuil Hall on Thursday afternoon. “I think that he is going to leave on a very positive note. The city in the minds of a lot of people has changed for the better in 20 years,” he says. But this opportunity is also a chance for Boston to start fresh. “I think a lot of people think it’s a new time for thinking and development … and the make-up of the city. When you have someone in office for so long, it’s just difficult to find new ways to do what you do, because people get set in their mode of operation. This provides an opportunity of bringing in people at all levels. We could be seeing a big shift.”
Ubertaccio predicts potential candidates will want to clinch an endorsement from Menino, which he says would be a “golden ticket” for their own election campaign. “I think whoever runs is going to want to be careful they are not criticizing Menino. He has the whole rest of year to forge his historical reputation. He is going to be listening very carefully to how a would-be successor will approach his policies. You’re not going to want to upset him—he is just too popular.”
In supporting a candidate, Menino has to be wary himself, however. “He needs to be very careful about making an endorsement too soon … he has a risk to reputation by making a judgment too early and not being able to rally his troops to support that person,” says Ubertaccio.
But Menino says he won’t be tipping his hat to any specific candidate just yet. “I have no plans to pick the person to fill this seat, I just ask you choose someone who loves this city as much as I do,” he said on Thursday.
So far several people have announced they are running, most notably, City Councilor John Connolly, who added his name to a list possible contenders for mayor, which is expected to continue to grow on the heels of Menino’s announcement.
As rumors swirled online Wednesday night about Menino’s choice not to run for a sixth term, Connolly, who declared his candidacy while Menino’s future was still uncertain (and who spent the first few weeks of his campaign criticizing the mayor), wished him well and thanked him for his time in office.
Connolly issued an official statement on Thursday morning, when the Menino rumors were confirmed. “Today we celebrate and thank [the mayor] for his service and unquestionable love for our City. He has personally touched the lives of tens of thousands of Bostonians, and he ensured a higher quality of life across Boston’s neighborhoods. I am thankful to have worked with him, and to have learned from him,” Connolly said in the statement.