Reporter’s Notebook: Menino the ‘statesman’ puts pundits in pondering modes

On a rainy Wednesday, a month before he announced that he wasn’t running for another term, Mayor Thomas Menino walked, with the help of a cane, through the lobby of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s Maverick Square location to meet the press. East Boston Councillor Sal LaMattina walked slightly ahead of him, and then quickly veered right when he saw the media horde awaiting the mayor. “Get out of here, Sal,” Menino said with a broad smile. “They don’t want you; they’re looking for blood.”

The day before, City Councillor At-Large John Connolly had launched his mayoral campaign and that brought on the first question tossed at Menino: What are your thoughts on Connolly’s announcement? “Young man. Wants to be mayor,” Menino said. “Good luck to him.”

Menino continued bantering and answering related questions for several minutes and by the end of the day, various pundits and those who fancied themselves Meninologists seemed convinced that the mayor was going to go for a sixth four-year term.

“If there is to be any surprise at all in this upcoming mayoral season, it will be that Tom Menino chooses not to make it an even two dozen,” a Boston Herald columnist wrote on March 26. Two days later, Menino stood inside grand old Faneuil Hall, surrounded by family and friends, and said he would not run again.

Menino has largely stayed out of the 12-person race to succeed him, every now and then noting that he does not plan to endorse anybody unless the candidates start “trashing” the city he loves. But that hasn’t stopped the Menino-watchers from attempting to divine which candidate the longtime mayor is aligning himself with even as his aides have scattered to the different campaigns.

Two tidbits this week offered a potential window for the Meninologists to peer into:

On Monday, during an appearance on Boston Herald Radio, the tabloid’s newest venture, Menino brought up Charlotte Golar Richie’s name. He noted that if she won, it would be “national news,” since she is a woman of color.

Asked if that was an endorsement, Menino said no, adding that he’s a “statesman” now.

That didn’t stop the Herald from a front page splash on Tuesday: “Lady’s First!” it blared, a picture of Golar Richie on one side, Menino inside the internet radio station’s studio on the other. Asked if she saw it as an endorsement, Golar Richie, who worked for Menino as his chief of housing, said, “I didn’t take it that way.”

Maybe the mayor was commenting on her being a “good employee,” she said, adding that the two of them were often on the “same page” on housing matters.

And, he was “stating the obvious,” Golar Richie said, since she is a woman of color who would get national attention if she won on Nov. 5. “I’m getting national attention now,” in the form of Emily’s List support, she added.

With the mayor’s popularity remaining sky-high, however, her campaign has continued to play up their ties. On Facebook, her campaign’s main avatar was switched to the Herald front page. And on Tuesday evening, during a forum in Chinatown on housing issues, Golar Richie’s campaign blasted out a press release touting an endorsement from Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford and his wife, Joyce London Alexander Ford: “The co-founder of the highly influential National Conference of Black Mayors and founder of the World Conference of Mayors, Mayor Ford says he agrees with his friend Tom Menino and has been encouraging his network of mayors to support Golar Richie, who if elected mayor of Boston, will make history on two fronts: as the first woman and the first African American to hold the seat.”

The second tidbit was even more intriguing. Menino’s campaign committee earlier this week sent a $100 check over to Rob Consalvo, the Hyde Park councillor who is also running for mayor.

The Consalvo campaign’s deposit, available on the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance’s website, also featured $100 from Sandra Henriquez, a former Menino administration official now working for the Obama administration, and $250 from Steven Samuels, CEO of Samuels and Associates.

But take a look at whom the Menino campaign committee has donated to in the past: $100 to LaMattina, the aforementioned East Boston councillor, earlier this year and again last year, when he unsuccessfully ran for Suffolk County register of probate.

Worth noting: No donations in 2011 to John O’Toole, the District 3 candidate Menino strongly backed in Dorchester, enough so that he earned a shout-out from O’Toole after he won the seven-person preliminary. Frank Baker, who was supported by childhood friend Marty Walsh, a state representative who is now running for mayor, eventually won the seat.

As for the Consalvo donation this month, the Boston Globe caught up with Menino on Tuesday. With less than 50 days to go until the Sept. 24 preliminary, the mayor served up a third tidbit for the Meninologists. “I didn’t even know about that,” Menino told the newspaper. “It was my treasurer.”

Cullinane heads into the Aug. 13 primary with over $13,000 on hand

With the Aug. 13 primary in the race to replace Linda Dorcena Forry slated for next week, Dan Cullinane’s campaign said it had over $13,000 cash on hand and had raised a total of $48,915 over the course of the campaign.

Stephanie Everett, a fellow Democrat, had an ending balance of about $700 in her account, according to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF). And Mary Tuitt, a third Democrat running in the primary, had a negative balance in her account, OCPF’s website said.

Tuitt, who works as state Rep. Gloria Fox’s chief of staff, has received support from several of her boss’s colleagues, including state Reps. Marcos Devers of Lawrence, Denise Andrews of Orange, Ruth Balser of Newton, and James O’Day of Worcester.

The Democratic primary will likely be determinative, since the 12th Suffolk House district includes deep blue Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park and two precincts in Milton. The winner of the primary will face off against two independents, Lincoln Larmond of Mattapan and Edmond Romulus of Milton, in the special general election on Sept. 10.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Email us at newseditor@dotnews.com and follow us on Twitter: @LitDrop and @gintautasd.