Menino's Presence Looms Over Mayoral Race, Sapping the Will of the Sloganeers

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Boston Globe did an article the other day on how weak the slogans are of the candidates in the race to succeed Tom Menino, (“Boston mayor’s race is lacking slogans with snap,” 8/19/13).

“When it comes to slogans in the mayoral campaign, there isn’t one zinger that grabs voters’ attention,” the article said.  It was hard to disagree.

For example, have you heard Rob Consalvo’s slogan, “All In For Boston,” or Charlotte Golar Richie’s, “Uniquely Qualified to Serve,” or Michael Ross’s, “Boston Smarter”?  

What can explain such dullness?

I believe Tom Menino is at least partly to blame.

He’s been the mayor for 20 years and is coming to the end of his record-setting fifth term.  He’s had a lot of bad luck, health-wise, but his standing among the electorate remains amazingly strong.

Under normal circumstances, the people looking to replace him would be positioning themselves with slogans like, “A Time for New Ideas,” “Setting a New Course for Boston,” “A New Time, a New Direction,” etc.

But there’s nothing normal about Menino being as popular at the end of his last term as he was at the end of his first.  He’s clearly set the modern standard for big-city mayoral effectiveness. 

Talking about the need for new directions and new ideas now would only arouse voters’ concerns about the state of city services when Menino’s no longer minding the store.

I guess that’s one reason why so many of the candidates are working overtime to portray themselves as Menino loyalists and emulators.  Recall how most of them didn’t hesitate -- when asked at a forum if they’d reappoint Menino’s police commissioner -- to say of course they’d keep Eddie Davis.

Menino vowed not to endorse any candidate in this election.  But that doesn’t mean he’s a non-factor in the race. 

That huge figure you see in the background, quietly polishing his legacy, is Tom Menino.   

No candidate wants to risk offending him.  They’re afraid he’d put the word out against them.  Menino’s minions are always ready to pass along such info.

I don’t see why the candidates are so coy, though, about claiming the Menino mantle as their own.  Why don’t they go straight for the goal and adopt slogans that make explicit their desire to win as many Menino voters as possible.

Charlotte Golar Richie, for example, could position herself as The Femenino, and Dan Conley could begin every speech by declaring, “Tom Menino loves me the most.  Period.”

Rob Consalvo, he should have his photo taken every Sunday delivering coffee purchased at a different Boston cafe to his Hyde Park neighbors, Tom and Angela.

Marty Walsh might consider a banner that proclaims, I Am Menino -- in a Wild Irish Pose!

John Connolly should hang a lantern on the problem he created by announcing for mayor before Menino announced he was retiring, which ticked off Hizzoner and prompted him to damn Connolly faintly as a “nice boy.” 

Here’s an idea for a good Connolly bumper sticker: Honk If You Like Tom’s Boy.

I don’t know where the rest of the candidates could take this, but Bill Walczak could do worse than to position himself as The Crunchy Menino.  And would it be so bad if Mike Ross tried to pass himself off as “the Menino Magnet” or if Felix Arroyo, whose current slogan is the yawner Forward With Felix, changed that to Tommy With a Latin Beat?

JIMMY KELLY, R.I.P.  There will be a memorial Mass this Saturday, August 24, at 10:00 a.m. for James A. Kelly, Jr., a former longtime member of the Massachusetts legislature from Worcester, at St. Pius X Church in Leicester.  Kelly died August 9 in Pueblo, Colorado, where he had been living in retirement for some years.  He was 87 years old.  A Navy veteran of World War II, a certified public accountant, and the father of eight children, Kelly served as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee for ten years back in the Sixties and Seventies.  His formidable ability to wield power was never more evident than when he played a decisive role in bringing the University of Massachusetts Medical Center to Worcester.  He was absolutely prescient about the Center’s ability to drive the economy of central Massachusetts for years to come.   I wonder if even a small fraction of the people who went on to earn a good living there ever thanked Senator Kelly, or if more than a handful of the people working there today even recognize his name? Such is the outcome of all toil.

No comments:

Post a Comment