Janey candidacy finding support among Walsh’s coalition backers

Acting Mayor Kim Janey (front row, center) poses with members of the Right to the City Vote coalition that endorsed her in Roxbury.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey is seeking to reconstruct the coalition that sent Marty Walsh to City Hall. How far along she is in assembling that coalition, a mixture of progressive activists and union members, depends on whom you talk to, including her predecessor, as the Sept. 14 preliminary approaches,

Her campaign has touted the endorsement of an assortment of liberal community groups operating under the banner of Right to the City Vote, which announced its support for a full four-year term for Janey last Saturday.

Outside Roxbury’s Dudley Cafe, members of the UNITE HERE Local 26, the hospitality workers union, joined members of Chinese Progressive Political Action and Mijente Boston Asamblea in backing Janey.

In their endorsement, the groups noted Janey’s background as an education advocate for a nonprofit before she joined the City Council in 2018.
“I have worked with Mayor Janey for many years and have witnessed her passion and commitment to addressing the opportunity gaps for low-income students, immigrants, and students with special needs,” said Suzanne Lee, a longtime Chinatown activist and former Boston Public Schools principal.

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“She has proven how she uses her lived experiences to inform her decisions toward governance,” Lee added. “She is the person we need at this time in history to unite our city to be a more equitable and inclusive Boston for all residents.”

While the endorsement didn’t mention it, Janey, who is the first woman and person of color to serve as the city’s chief executive, is also aided by an almost-incumbency as she faces off against four rivals for the job.

Janey ascended to the mayor’s office in March when Walsh left to head up President Biden’s labor secretariat. While in the chair, she has eliminated late fees at the Boston Public Library and temporarily eliminated fares on the Route 28 bus, an idea first pushed by City Councillor Michelle Wu, a mayoral rival.

During the 2018 election cycle, Right to the City Vote supported Ayanna Pressley’s Congressional bid and Rachael Rollins’s campaign for Suffolk County district attorney.

The group also supported Walsh’s first run for mayor in 2013. That was in the final, however. In the preliminary, they supported John Barros, who lost to Walsh and City Councillor At-Large John Connolly. Barros went on to serve as Walsh’s economic development chief and is now again running for mayor.

Walsh himself, when asked on Monday about the state of the coalition that carried him into office for two terms, was circumspect.

“I think anytime a sitting mayor or governor leaves, the coalition always talks about sticking together,” he told reporters after attending an event promoting the Biden administration’s support for a universal paid leave policy for American workers.

“But there were a few mayoral candidates here and there were people with them, and they were all I guess with me at one point,” he said, a reference to Janey, Barros, Annissa Essaibi George, and Andrea Campbell, who attended the event in Copley Square.

“Every race is different,” he said. “Every race is a different field. It’s going to be incumbent upon the candidates to be able to build those coalitions now in primary and in the final.”

The Right to the City Vote also has a super PAC it plans to deploy on Janey’s behalf. The second such outside group to swing into action for Janey, it plans to also jump into district and at-large City Council races.

The coalition’s super PAC was created in 2019, with Noemi Ramos, a Dorchester resident, as its chair.

The PAC spent $14,760 during the 2019 election cycle and its biggest donor, with $10,000, was Maria Jobin-Leeds, a self-described philanthropist, according to publicly available campaign finance filings.

Janey, who criticized super PAC spending earlier this year, has previously sought to differentiate between the super PAC supporting her and another supporting one of her rivals that has charter school supporters among its donors.

UNITE HERE Local 26 formed a super PAC in June to support Janey. The outside group has already started spending money on canvassing efforts while 32BJ SEIU, the property service workers union, has floated the possibility of its own pro-Janey super PAC.

Other mayoral candidates have pulled in support from super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. In Massachusetts, super PACs, which cannot coordinate with the campaigns they are backing, typically depend on unions and wealthy donors for support.

Andrea Campbell, the District 4 councillor running for mayor, has the super PAC “Better Boston” supporting her. Donors include charter school supporters and others, such as a local advertising executive and the manager of a Jamaican restaurant in Codman Square.

Another super PAC, “Bostonians for Real Progress,” told the Reporter in late July that it’s throwing its support behind City Councillor At-Large Annissa Essaibi George’s mayoral bid.

The “Boston Turnout Project” super PAC, run by a former aide to US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, filed paperwork to set up earlier this year but has remained publicly quiet, with no spending or fundraising yet reported. The aide, Jason Burrell, declined to comment when reached by phone last week.

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