Reporter's Notebook: Boston’s never-say-die GOP unit sets caucuses

Boston’s Republicans will hold back-to-back-to-back half-hour caucuses next Thursday evening in advance of the state party’s convention in March. Three committees – Wards 12, 13, and 14 – are scheduled to gather at the Grove Hall Library at 6:30 p.m., with Ward 14 going first. Rachel Kemp, a Dorchester resident who serves as a state committeewoman for the GOP, is hoping for a “robust” 20 people to appear at the meetings, which will select delegates for the March 22 convention at Boston University’s Agganis Arena.

Kemp says she is backing Charlie Baker for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Baker, a former health care executive, unsuccessfully ran against Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010 and is showing a softer, gentler side this time around. He is facing a challenge for the nomination from Mark Fisher, a Shrewsbury resident who is self-funding his campaign. A few independents are in the mix as well, in addition to the five Democrats vying for their party’s nomination. The Democratic caucuses begin on Feb. 8, and the party’s convention is in June.

Republicans will be holding their convention in one of the state’s bluest cities, which sits in its bluest county, a statement affirmed by the number of Republicans in the Boston delegation on Beacon Hill: Zero. The city hasn’t had a Republican mayor since Malcolm Nichols (1926-1930). Boston Democrats, who often compete in intense primary battles, romp when it comes to the general election ballot, which is a constant problem for local Republicans. In 2012, state Senators Jack Hart and Sonia Chang-Diaz coasted to election without Republican opposition while other elected officials faced nominal opposition.

Asked why local voters keep electing Democrats, Kemp noted that most of the people living in the area work in the public sector, and are led by Democrats. “And therefore,” she said, “most people’s political philosophy is you don’t want to be standing out as a Republican in a Democratic environment.” That apparently includes potential candidates. It doesn’t look like the GOP will have a candidate in the race to replace Marty Walsh in the House. Not enough time to field a candidate, said Kemp. As for fielding a candidate for the Fifth Suffolk District seat, currently held by convicted state Rep. Carlos Henriquez, Kemp would only say, “Stay tuned.”

Walsh, Menino getting used to their new roles

Martin J. Walsh, mayor. Thomas M. Menino, private citizen. Those are the roles the current city CEO and the former chief executive are in today, and both are still adjusting to it. At a Monday breakfast celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Walsh slipped when speaking to the crowd of 800 people, which included Menino, who was on hand to receive the “True Compass” award, which singles out individuals for their social justice work. “He is the mayor of the city of Boston,” Walsh said of Menino. “I’m fortunate to follow him as the mayor of the city of Boston.” For his part, Menino also made a slip while accepting the award – “As I leave” – but quickly corrected himself.

Earlier, on Jan. 6, the day of Walsh’s inaugural, Menino had left a note for his successor on his desk just before he left City Hall. On Monday, Walsh revealed some of what the note said: “Be true to yourself, be true to the city. Follow your heart, follow the city’s heart and you will be a great mayor.”

Walsh also told of the first call he receives every morning. It’s from Police Commissioner Bill Evans relaying what happened overnight. The mayor said he has yet to receive a call from Evans saying, “Great night in Boston, it’s been quiet. We didn’t have any shootings, we didn’t have any arrests, we didn’t have any stabbings, we didn’t have any problems.” Walsh told the crowd, “We’re going to work collectively together so we can get those phone calls so our young people in the city can feel safer.”

Avellone taps former candidate for Council as his senior adviser
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Avellone is bringing Jack Kelly, a Charlestown native who ran for City Council at-large last year, onto his campaign. Kelly, who once served as Mayor Menino’s neighborhood liaison in Charlestown, will work with Avellone to develop a public health agenda and help navigate the Democratic caucuses in Boston. “He served as a top political operative for Mayor Menino and nobody understands urban issues better than Jack.  I met Jack over the summer during his campaign and I was impressed about how open he was about his past substance abuse problems,” Avellone said. “Jack is a great inspiration to everyone that second chances do happen and when you do get the opportunity to make the most of it.  I have enormous respect for Jack and believe he will be an invaluable part of our team.”

One Walsh left in the House

Dorchester’s Marty Walsh left the House to take the mayor’s chair in City Hall. And now Lynn’s Steve Walsh is taking a job with the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, according to the State House News Service. Marty was elected in 1997, while Steve started in 2002. The Beacon Hill wire service noted that this makes Framingham’s Chris Walsh, who was elected in 2010, the only Walsh in the House.

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