It's hardly surprising that King disputes that estimate, claiming he "starts with" at least half of the black vote and in addition is "the only candidate who can bring out votes in that community." When the questioning turned to specifics, though, his responses were less than convincing. Only one of his top five organizers in Wards 12 and 14, so far as he knew, had significant experience in electoral politics, and that for Republican Frank Hatch in his unsuccessful run for governor. He did not dispute reports that two voter-registration tables set up at black functions recently at his request drew a grand total of 28 new voters, and instead claimed, "If we get 28 a day from now on, we can get some motion."
There are other signs the campaign is not in the best of shape. King has little financing: for a while, he took the position that he would not accept donations over $10, but he has since relented, saying only that he discouraged large contributions. He has no campaign director, although the job has been offered to several people ("I anticipate hiring somebody"), and, most significantly, his attempt through a petition drive to place the Galvin referendum before the voters again fell far short of getting the necessary signatures (such a referendum, if approved, would provide for district representation on the school committee and city council). King needed about 12,000 signatures to get the referendum on the ballot, or roughly 20,000 if one allows for signatures disqualified for one reason or another. He got only 9910. To King, though, this poor showing was "a learning experience to help us understand what we need in order to make the organization work more effectively.
"I am optimistic, that is very true," he said, as we continued discussing organizational failings. "But I am not either a martyr or stupid or crazy. I understand what needs to happen. There is a level of exciting people that has to take place in order for things to come together. I have relied in the past on that style to get things done. I think I have as good a record as anyone in this city in making things happen."
* * *
Since I believe that all activities are political, the decision to continue using the electoral process as a base for action will be based on what is happening organizationally and personally at the time. Being in office is a resource for advancing public ownership and direction, but I do not necessarily need to be in an elected office to get that to happen, since I believe I am a resource personally . . . . I hope, however, that many more people in academia will realize that the political process is an important piece of life. TIME FRAME: the next 50 years.
-from the conclusion of King's memo