A burgeoning mayoral race. A governor who has just returned from Jamaica with his taxpayer-paid troopers in tow. And an ex-governor from several states away who is prone to swearing and allegedly calling a U.S. Senate seat a "[expletive] valuable thing."
Those are just some of the topics expected to come up with a side of corned beef during the St. Patrick's Day breakfast this Sunday at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The event is an annual political tradition held every year since about the 1940s in the city, still a stronghold for Irish-American elected officials.
"There's certainly material to go around this year," said state Sen. Jack Hart, who took over the roast in 2002 from U.S. Congressman Steven Lynch.
"There'll be great material and great anticipation" on how several contenders for mayor fare, Hart added. Mayor Thomas Menino is widely expected to be running for another term, and City Councillors At-Large Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon are both angling to beat him. South End businessman Kevin McCrea is also in the race.
The breakfast is widely known as an opportunity for politicians and others to tweak each other and take a break from the high-pressure environment on Beacon Hill and in City Hall.
Case in point: As last year's debate over Gov. Deval Patrick's plan for three casinos raged at State House, Patrick, joined by Hart and state Reps. Marty Walsh and Brian Wallace, attempted to serenade then-House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, the chief opponent of the plan, with a parody of the Foxwoods casino theme song. When DiMasi took his turn at the microphone, he quipped, "Gambling bills are just like casinos: The House always wins." (Four days later, the House killed the plan in an overwhelming vote against it.)
DiMasi's successor, Rep. Robert DeLeo of Winthrop, attended last year, taking DiMasi's seat at the table at one point, and will attend this year, according to his spokesman.
The breakfast, starting at 10 a.m. on Comcast SportsNet, will be also available on channels Comcast 48 and 852, RCN 370 and 685, DirecTV 630 and 630-1.
Former House Speaker Thomas Finneran (D-Mattapan) will be broadcasting the breakfast on WRKO 680 AM, with live interviews from the floor of the convention center.
Hart coyly promised several surprises, and said he is speaking with the White House about a potential phone call from President Barack Obama.
A group of male vocalists visiting from Ireland, known as Celtic Thunder, will appear and perform. Boston College High School's choir will also make an appearance. The state's veterans of wars past and present will also be honored, according to Hart.
One other thing is for sure: Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis remains a persona non grata at the convention center. At the 2006 breakfast, Glodis tuned up Menino, saying he made a $2,000 Armani suit look like a "sack of potatoes." The former state senator also received a wince from Hart after quipping that then-state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, known for having tax problems and currently under investigation by the FBI for federal extortion charges, was busy filming "Prison Break 2," according to the Worcester Telegram Gazette's write-up of the performance. Glodis was subsequently uninvited.
"Guy's a friend, but it's a day to poke fun at each other and poke fun at oneself," Hart said, adding that means "no mean-spiritedness."