Amid the back-and-forth on the main stage at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, as the Sunday morning program inched through its ten segments, District 2 City Councillor Bill Linehan, this year’s host of the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, paused to let the audience know: “It’d be easier if I was drinking.”
The size of the audience was a little thinner, the main table a little less crowded with politicians than when it was held in a local union hall, but Linehan, ebullient and full of nervous energy, kept to the breakfast’s variety show feel while leaning heavily on Irish songs during the two and a half hours.
The elected officials who spoke kept to current events when attempting to land jabs at one another and themselves, from Pope Benedict resigning to the special elections for US Senate and the state’s First Suffolk Senate District.
“Can you imagine someone with supreme power stepping down, allowing someone else to take over? Me either,” said Mayor Thomas Menino, who has occupied City Hall’s executive suite since 1993.
As Menino started on his routine, City Councillor At-Large John Connolly, who announced his mayoral bid last month and was sitting in the back row with state Rep. Marty Walsh and District 7 Councillor Tito Jackson, slipped into Menino’s seat at the main table. “Hey kid, get your own seat, get in the back row, will ya?” Menino quipped.
Former Republican Gov. Bill Weld, who often shared the stage with former Senate President Bill Bulger during the breakfast’s heyday, was a solo act on Sunday, returning for a seven-minute bit that riffed on his time in New York with a song that in one verse called New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg a “quack.”
Linehan took over hosting duties this year, after former state Sen. Jack Hart resigned his position to take a job at a law firm.
State Rep. Nick Collins, a South Boston Democrat and former Hart aide running for Hart’s seat, threw a dart in state Treasurer Steve Grossman’s direction when he took the microphone from Linehan. “And thank you for putting me well after Steve Grossman,” Collins joked. “I think I’ve had vanilla ice cream with more flavor than that guy.” After some in the crowd verbally cringed, Collins added, “Oh, we love Steve, we love Steve.”
State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, a Dorchester Democrat who is also running for the Hart seat, grabbed a few seconds with the microphone to say, “I am so happy to be here in South Boston, or as people in my neighborhood call it, North Dorchester.”
The other two candidates in the Hart race – Maureen Dahill, a South Boston Democrat and entrepreneur, and Joseph Ureneck, a Dorchester Republican – were in the audience but didn’t get a chance to speak.
Gov. Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray opted to skip this year’s breakfast, with Patrick saying he was out of town and Murray stating that she had previously scheduled events in her Plymouth-based district.
Patrick taped a video of a faux press conference, convened to warn the state of two “man-made” disasters: Reality shows “Southie Rules” and “Wicked Single.”
Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston) and Ed Markey (D-Malden) each got a turn on the stage, before heading to Holyoke for its St. Patrick’s Day parade.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also spoke, referencing the lengthy list of scandals that have dogged State House lawmakers. “I understand Bill wants more people to sing this year,” she said. “On Beacon Hill, I understand that usually means going before a grand jury.”