Yoon, posturing towards mayoral run, adds to coffers

The Boston Globe delivered a handsome gift for at-Large Councillor Sam Yoon on Christmas Eve, even if unintended.

On that day the paper ran a story that led with details about a fundraising appeal sent by Yoon's wife Christina that made mention of a "higher office" and went into a horse-race tally of Mayor Thomas Menino's, Councillor Michael Flaherty's and Yoon's bank accounts. Former Councillor Larry DiCara was quoted as saying, "Yoon has to have a six-figure number, or else he shouldn't be playing the game."

At mid-month and in the article, Yoon was reporting just over $63,000 at the state's Office of Campaign and Political Finance website. But even as Yoon answered the Globe reporter's questions he could have known he had six figures in the bank.

When OCPF employees got back to work and counted a Dec. 24 deposit, posting it on the agency's website Monday, Yoon's account added up to $116,143. And he's far from finished.

Aside from his wife's fundraising web page, which had a goal of $10,000 by the end of the year, Yoon put out an e-mail on Dec. 26 linking the Globe article and asking for donations. Carefully worded, it read: "While I'm still considering all my options, the insiders say it takes a $100,000 going into next year to be competitive. It looks like we may fall just short of our year-end goal. That's why I'm asking you to please make a contribution of $100, $50, and $25 - anything you can afford."

And one fact that the Globe didn't mention about Christina Yoon: she's a management consultant who writes a blog about fundraising. She speaks regularly on the topic.

Given the grace period allowed candidates to get in their end of the year deposits, Yoon is likely to show a bit more strength in this area. As the accounts currently stand, he has far outpaced Flaherty this month, who so far reports taking in nearly $24,000.

Only four of the state's congressmen have more in their campaign accounts than Menino did Monday, and that number will likely shrink soon. The mayor has added $170,000 this month, bringing his total to over $1.4 million.

Of course historically, money doesn't always predict the winner. Yoon was heavily outspent by John Connolly when he first won his seat on the council in 2005. Connolly had to wait and try again in 2007, knocking off Felix D. Arroyo to win his at-Large seat.

"He can't even make the decision until he has the support and resources to do it credibly, that is what the email is saying," said Yoon spokesman Curtis Ellis. "Now we'll see if people want him to run."

Then again, there was an open seat on the City Council when Yoon beat Connolly in 2005. Even if Yoon can raise copious amounts of cash and hire a crack campaign staff, he still faces the legacy of incumbency in Boston. The last time someone won against an incumbent mayor in this town was when Dorchester's own John B. Hynes defeated James Michael Curley in 1949. Though once unbeatable, in 1949 Curley was 75 and had just spent five months in a federal penitentiary for mail fraud, among other charges.

Menino holds a considerably more favorable image in the public eye and also guards the steering mechanism for a political machine Curley would have been proud of.

"Neighborhoods like Hyde Park, Roslindale, East Boston, I don't think those are votes you can take away from [Menino]," said former Councillor and Boston pol know-it-all Larry DiCara. "If he gets the votes in the minority neighborhoods, he gets in, even if the coast goes to Flaherty and Yoon gets the progressives."

Although few - if any predict - an upset against Menino, DiCara said he could see the idea of a second place finish for Yoon, as Menino and Flaherty draw from the same voter base in some areas. "The challenge for both of them is to cobble together 30,000 votes to get to the final," he said of the two challengers.

Of course technically, Menino hasn't announced his plans just yet. But that speech is likely on its way. Menino's told many that he'll be discussing the matter with his family over the holidays and his State of the City address - coming up at Faneuil Hall on Jan. 13 - would provide a natural platform.