Education reform group wades back into mayoral race for Connolly

By 
Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Oct. 11, 2013

Citing outside organizations spending over $1 million in support of state Rep. Marty Walsh's mayoral campaign, an education reform group said Friday they plan to return to the race in support of the candidate they endorsed in July, City Councillor At-Large John Connolly.

"Our team of Democratic activists and students has resumed the outreach we did this summer with potential voters about John Connolly," the Massachusetts branch of the group, Democrats for Education Reform, said in a statement. "More than 50 days ago, we stopped this work at Connolly’s request and focused these discussions on the Obama education agenda and other candidates."

Those other candidates included Josh Zakim, who is running for the District 8 Council seat, which Mission Hill's Michael Ross gave up to run for mayor. The website of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, a state watchdog, shows they spent $6,178.73 in support of Zakim, which drew criticism from Zakim's rival Michael Nichols. It was not immediately clear how much would be spent on Connolly's behalf.

"With just 25 days until the election and over one million dollars already spent by other groups, we feel compelled to directly tell voters the value of John Connolly’s experience as chair of the City Council’s education committee, as a middle school teacher, and as the father of a student in a turnaround school," said the group's statement, which was released late Friday.

The group noted that there was no agreement in place between the two candidates to limit the influence of outside groups. After the Sept. 24 preliminary, Connolly called on Walsh to join him in signing a modified version of the "People's Pledge," an agreement first proposed in the race by District 5 Councillor and mayoral candidate Rob Consalvo. Walsh refused to sign it, reiterated his stance it was a "gimmick," and noted that Connolly had called it a "gimmick," too.

During the preliminary, a separate education reform group, Stand For Children, endorsed Connolly and said it would be spending $500,000 in support of his campaign. At a press conference outside City Hall, Connolly said he did not want outside groups getting involved in the race.

Walsh, a longtime union leader, has benefited from labor groups spending money in support of his campaign, such as Working America, American Working Families, and Boston Firefighters Local 718, among others. American Working Families recently spent $122,990 on a commercial in support of Walsh, according to OCPF. The ad started airing on Oct. 9.

The Democrats for Education Reform Massachusetts's full statement is available below.

Our team of Democratic activists and students has resumed the outreach we did this summer with potential voters about John Connolly. More than 50 days ago, we stopped this work at Connolly’s request and focused these discussions on the Obama education agenda and other candidates.

Despite Connolly’s continued efforts to limit outside spending, there is clearly no agreement between the candidates in the general election.

With just 25 days until the election and over one million dollars already spent by other groups, we feel compelled to directly tell voters the value of John Connolly’s experience as chair of the City Council’s education committee, as a middle school teacher, and as the father of a student in a turnaround school.

We were pleased that the preliminary campaign remained positive, focused on education, and produced two candidates who care deeply about improving our public schools. We hope to see a final campaign that is similarly positive and education-focused.

DFER will also move forward with the dozens of Get Out The Vote events as planned.