Don’t call it a farewell tour.
Marty Walsh, who is winding down his time as President Biden’s labor secretary, was inside the Omni Hotel in Boston’s Seaport district on Monday, speaking at the ribbon-cutting of a hospitality training center in front of a crowd that included union members, city councillors, state lawmakers, and hotel managers.
“In a few days, I’m going to step away from an almost 26-year career in politics,” he said, referring to his next job as head of the Toronto-based NHL players’ union, which comes with a multimillion-dollar salary while allowing him to work from the Lower Mills home that he has repeatedly returned to, rather than stay in Washington, D.C.
Walsh referenced his 16 years as a state representative for Dorchester — he won the seat in a Democratic primary that included future Attorney General Martha Coakley — and his seven years as mayor, but after his remarks, when the crowd had moved to the front doors of the training center, he was less conclusive. Cameras clustered around him in the concrete bowels of the hotel, in front of the training center’s dimly lit entrance marked by two empty Adirondack chairs and four potted plants.
He was asked if this was the end of his political career. Walsh, who is known to closely follow political developments, texting and calling friends and allies, as he did in the race to succeed him in 2021, left it open-ended. “I’ve got two weeks left, so let’s see what happens.”
Incorporating the mantra of recovering alcoholics such as himself, he added: “Listen, I take my life a day at a time.”
Months earlier, he said, the NHL union job “wasn’t even on my radar, so you don’t know what’s going to happen in life.”
Can he still root for his beloved Bruins, given the new job? He greeted the inquiry with another question mark. “I don’t know. We’ll have to figure that out.”
Walsh, who will turn 56 in April, prefers to keep conjecture about his political future alive. That’s not hard to do in a city and state that loves its reckless chatter, with people gaming out moves that may never happen, and subjectively tallying who’s on the rise and who’s down and who’s knocked sideways into a future news cycle. After all, Walsh did briefly consider running for governor when Charlie Baker, a close friend, decided against a third term.
Having $4.6 million in a campaign account helps, too. That’s down from the $5 million that was in there a year ago.
The money has flowed out to a number of different accounts: $250,000 to the Gavin Foundation in South Boston; $30,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester; $25,000 to Massachusetts State Police union’s “benevolent fund”; $10,000 to Big Sister Boston; $10,000 to Camp Harbor View, which focuses on underserved youth; $5,000 to Boston to Belfast Youth Empowerment; $5,000 to Cristo Rey Boston, a high school steps from Walsh’s former Savin Hill condo; and $5,000 to the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County, a nonprofit that seeks to “promote safety, healing and justice for child abuse victims and their families.”
What about plans for the rest of the cash he has on hand? Another inquiry, another question-mark response: “We’ll talk about that later,” Walsh said, and the impromptu press conference was over.