Walsh: Wu will run for mayor next year

Mayor Martin Walsh on Monday told the Boston Globe that at-large City Councillor Michelle Wu told him that she will run for mayor in 2021. Wu, who has not officially announced a candidacy as of Tuesday, has neither confirmed nor denied the report.

“A reporter from the Globe called me and asked me. He had heard that I got a call from the councillor and I just confirmed,” Walsh said Tuesday in a press conference outside of City Hall.  The mayor, elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017, did not comment when asked if he will seek a third term next year.

“Right now, I’m focused on running the city and getting us through the Covid-19 crisis that we’re having in Boston as you can tell,” Walsh told reporters. “We’re talking about working on reopening schools and making sure that people losing employment don’t continue to. We want to continue to create jobs and fight for equity. My job right now is focusing on being the mayor of Boston.”

“When I’m not on duty as mayor, my job is to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the president and vice president of the United States of America,” Walsh said. “We need an administration in Washington that we can work with for the next four years.” There’ll be plenty of time for conversations later on, he added.

Jessicah Pierre, a spokesperson for Wu, said in a statement that “Councilor Wu believes that in this moment of hardship in our city, each one of us should be asking ourselves how we can make a difference in strengthening our communities and fighting for change that matches the scale and urgency of our current challenges.”

According to a recent filing with the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Wu’s expenditures in August totaled an unusually high amount – $53,363. She spent $20,000 on “campaign emails/digital ads” and $2,500 on a monthly campaign ad retainer. Both services were purchased from Authentic Campaigns, which is described on its website as “a full service digital communications shop” for Democratic clients. 

Wu also spent $15,000 on “campaign video production services” at Blue State Digital, a digital strategy and technology firm based in Chicago that specializes in online fundraising, advocacy, social networking, and constituency development. She has a little more than $346,000 in cash on hand, compared to Walsh’s $5.5 million. 

Since her election to the council in 2013, Wu has emerged as a force in city politics, topping the at-large ticket in the last two election cycles. In 2016, she became the first woman of color to be elected council president by her peers.

She has called on the Legislature to better fund the beleaguered MBTA (maybe, she says, make it a fare-free operation) and spoke up loudly last year with a 72-page review of her concerns about the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). Bottom line: She wanted it “abolished.”

More recently, Wu has criticized the Walsh administration’s Boston Racial Equity Fund and Resiliency Fund, arguing that they present potential conflicts of interest for donors who have business before the city and do not do enough to address systemic racism. In late August, she successfully lobbied her colleagues on the council to block appointments to the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA,) citing the need for structural changes. 

Wu may not be the only person to emerge to run for mayor next year. District 4 Councillor Andrea Campbell, also a former council president, has been moving money into her campaign coffers. According to OCPF, she has $285,000 in the bank, which is considered a large sum for a district councillor. However, unlike Wu, Campbell has not been spending large sums— yet.

On Monday, after the news about a Wu candidacy was reported by the Globe, at-large Councillor Julia Mejia took to Twitter to say: “I recommend that everyone wait until all 2021 candidates come out before jumping on board anyone’s bandwagon. In 2021 I predict 5-6 mayoral candidates, 20 at-large candidates, at least 1-3 for each district, and with so many people running we’ll have lots of viable options. Wait to see who gets on the ballot, best represents your values, then decide who you want to support. Be informed.”