State Rep. Byron Rushing, who represents the South End, Roxbury and parts of Back Bay, was elected to the House in 1982, well before the city started to brace itself for an open mayoral race. The assistant majority leader and a top Democrat smiles when he’s asked about which candidate will get his vote inside the voting booth, as 12 contenders make a bid for two slots in the Sept. 24 mayoral preliminary.
“Oh, that’s a secret,” Rushing said. “If I endorse somebody, you will know about it.”
Until Thursday morning, Rushing was one of several State House members playing it close to the vest, at least for now. He endorsed City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo, outside the Jamaica Plain resident's South End headquarters.
Others are genuinely undecided. So are interest groups, unions like SEIU 1199, which is staying out of the race, and the average voter, who seems overwhelmed by the array of choices on the ballot.
Those that have endorsed are not shy about it. The Boston Globe on Tuesday devoted plenty of column inches to a sprawling editorial endorsement of City Councillor At-Large John Connolly and community activist John Barros who is of Cape Verdean descent. Both have backgrounds rooted in education: Connolly, a former teacher, chairs the Education Committee on the City Council, while Barros, executive director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, served on the appointed School Committee. Both are 40 years old.
Barros “stood on the front lines of battles over crime and other neighborhood tensions, including those between native-born Bostonians and non-English-speaking immigrants,” the Globe wrote, while Connolly “understands the centrality of the Boston Public Schools to the city’s challenges better than any other candidate.” Savin Hill’s Bill Walczak and Mission Hill City Councillor Michael Ross received honorable mentions in the editorials and placed in runner-up positions.
The Herald last week endorsed Connolly and Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley, while taking a “non-endorsement” swipe at state Rep. Marty Walsh due to his background as a labor leader.
Meanwhile, the Boston Teachers Union, whose headquarters is in Dorchester, will be wading into the race after all. Days after union officials expressed doubt about whether any candidate could meet two-thirds threshold among the union’s membership, political action committee and executive board, the union announced it had given preliminary backing to City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo and District Councillor Rob Consalvo. Arroyo’s mother is a former teacher, and his wife is a current teacher, while Consalvo has actively courted the teachers union by pushing back against education reform activists and their outside spending. Consalvo supporters, in a contrast to the Connolly campaign pushing their candidate as “The Education Mayor,” have started referring to Consalvo as “The Public Education Mayor.” Consalvo and Arroyo were scheduled to meet union officials on Wednesday, to speak on their nominations, after the print edition of the Reporter went to press.
But it’s the polls most people paying close attention to the race are hungry for. This week saw an end to the drought, with a Globe/University of New Hampshire poll showing Connolly, who announced his candidacy a month before Mayor Thomas Menino said he would not run for a sixth term, with a slight edge.
Rushing pointed to the recent spate of polls showing most voters as undecided.
“If the polls are to be believed, it’s going to be a lottery,” Rushing said. “I don’t know if the polls are correct.”
On television, candidates make their last pitches
Former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie’s mayoral campaign released a pair of television ads this week. The male narrator in the first ad notes she is the “Boston’s only woman candidate,” and points to her experience as a state representative, the city’s housing chief and a senior adviser to Gov. Deval Patrick.
The ad features photos of her with Mayor Thomas Menino and President Obama, when he ran into her during a campaign swing and a visit to Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe in the South End. Menino has not endorsed anybody in the race.
The Golar Richie campaign is spending $30,000 to put the first ad on the air. It will be on various channels, including, NECN, Bravo, Lifetime, TNT, USA, VH1, CNN, BET, TLC, and NESN. Golar Richie also announced the support of Rev. Ellis Washington, Rev. Jeffrey Brown, Rev. Liz Walker, Rev. Mark Scott, Rev. Willie Bodrick, Rev. Evan Hines, Rev. Willie James, Rev. Eugene Rivers and Rev. Miniard Culpepper, a former mayoral candidate.
The second ad features actor Lou Gossett Jr. touting Golar Richie’s accomplishments.
State Rep. Marty Walsh’s campaign released its own first ad, which focuses on his biography: Son of Irish immigrants, survived cancer, overcame a drinking problem, became a state legislator and labor leader. The ad, developed by AKPD Message and Media, the firm started by Obama adviser David Axelrod, is called “Fair Shot.”
City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo showcased his family in his ad, which started airing on Telemundo and Univision this week. The ad includes Felix D. Arroyo, his father and former city councillor at-large; his mother, Elsa; and his wife Jasmine, along with two nieces and one nephew, all sitting on a couch. “Our family has always cared about public service and working with our community,” his father says in Spanish, while his mother adds, “And that’s why our son Felix is running this historic campaign becoming the first and only Latino candidate for Mayor of Boston.”
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UPDATE: This article was updated on Friday at 9:30 a.m. with news of Rushing's endorsement.