Reporter’s Notebook: The names game is on: Who wants Walsh seat?
The confetti had barely left the cannon on election night by the time speculation was underway about the next race.
The elevation of Dorchester’s Marty Walsh to the mayor’s seat in City Hall means there will be a House seat vacancy within the 13th Suffolk District next year. Inside the Park Plaza Hotel’s ballroom that night, there was already talk about who might be interested in replacing Walsh, a Democrat and labor leader in union-rich Dorchester. Walsh has served in the House for 16 years, winning the job in 1997 in a special election after Jim Brett, another Dorchester guy who ran for mayor but received different results, decided to take a job with the New England Council.
Add to this speculation the possibility that District 3 City Councillor Frank Baker will take a job in the Walsh administration, prompting another special election locally, and all manner of names are likely to surface.
The first candidate to officially announce for the Walsh seat is likely to be Dan Hunt, who handles government affairs for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and chairs the Ward 16 Democratic Committee. Hunt, whose father and brother made runs for the seat when it opened up in 1981 and 1997, is an attorney.
Another possibility is Annissa Eissabi George, who fell short of receiving one of the four City Council At-Large slots in the November municipal election. She came in fifth place, receiving about 30,500 votes citywide. In a post on Facebook, Essaibi George, who owns a Dorchester Avenue yarn shop, said she was “seriously considering” a campaign and will decide by Thanksgiving. “I have so much to offer the City and the State and I know I would be an excellent candidate and Representative. Over the next few weeks I will consider the results of the City Council race and look closely at the turn-out in my favor in Dorchester and in the 13th Suffolk specifically.”
Based on a Reporter review of unofficial election numbers, Essaibi George received 4,658 votes in the Dorchester-based precincts that make up the 13th Suffolk House District. (One precinct is in North Quincy, on the other side of the Neponset River, while the rest are in Savin Hill, Clam Point, parts of Codman Square, Adams Village and Port Norfolk.) Voters could choose up to four candidates, and there were a total of eight on the at-large ballot.
Craig Galvin, the owner of a Dorchester real estate firm and a former candidate for the District 3 council seat, is also weighing a run. He said last week that he has received calls from friends and family who think the State House job would be a good fit.
“Having put my name on the ballot before, I know what an undertaking it is,” he said. “And Marty Walsh has done a wonderful job with his hands-on approach with this and it needs at least that amount of attention and probably more.” A rival of Galvin’s in that District 3 race who finished in second place, John O’Toole, could be another potential candidate.
Other potential candidates include: Phil Carver, who works at UMass Boston and heads up the Pope’s Hill Civic Association, said this week that he’s not “going to rule anything out”; Michael Christopher, who is employed in the Executive Office of Public Safety and worked on Gov. Deval Patrick’s reelection campaign; Mariamma White-Hammond, executive director of Project HIP-HOP; Sean Weir, head of the Cedar Grove Civic Association; and Steve Bickerton, Jr., who has worked for Walsh.
As for Savin Hill’s Bill Walczak, who ran for mayor in the preliminary and warned about the hazards of a casino in East Boston: He said Tuesday night that he is happy at Shawmut Construction, the firm that he was working at before he mounted a mayoral bid.
Walsh doesn’t plan to leave the House until around the end of the year, meaning the special election will play out over the course of next winter and spring. He will be sworn in as mayor on Jan. 6.
At UMass Boston, panel mulls Golar Richie bid
The end of the first wide-open mayoral race in 30 years has led to a steady stream of post-race forums and dissection of the results including a discussion focused on the third-place finisher, former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie. The Dorchester Democrat, who worked at the nonprofit YouthBuild before becoming a mayoral candidate and who is now on Walsh’s transition team, talked about her experience on Tuesday night.
She said she was in Los Angeles County, touring a YouthBuild project site with a top Republican, when her phone started to jump with the news of Menino’s decision not to run again. In between that and the Sept. 24 preliminary, it seemed like a “blur,” she said at the forum, which was put together by the Center for Women in Politics and the McCormack Graduate School.
When weighing whether to run, she had to take into account whether or not her sister would be able to take care of their ailing father, who died in August while she was on the campaign trail. Male candidates are more willing to jump in, she said. “The guys are better at this; they just say, ‘I’m in.’ ” Golar Richie also said she expected more support from women and people of color during her run.
During the discussion, EMILY’s List, the Democratic-leaning group that supports women candidates, came under fire for not providing financial support to Golar Richie beyond a $500 donation. Joyce Ferriabough Bolling, who worked on the communications side of the campaign, said she constantly fielded questions from reporters who asked when the support from the organization was coming. She also asked the campaign fundraiser if the organization could spend some money, through independent expenditures, on the campaign’s behalf. “It was just a horrible experience,” Ferriabough said. Ultimately, Ferriabough said, it came down to numbers. “Charlotte lost because her base didn’t come out,” she said. Some panelists also cited a Boston Globe column that came out four days before the election, which ripped the Golar Richie campaign as dysfunctional.
In addition to Golar Richie, the panelists included Ferriabough, UMass Boston Professor Paul Watanabe; Priti Rao of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus; and Gloribell Mota, a local activist.
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