O'Malley has a strong progressive reputation — he has served as political director for the gay-rights-advocacy group MassEquality — but he's also a political operator who managed Andrea Cabral's successful campaign for sheriff, and was running Steve Grossman's field operation in his run for state treasurer.
And, if Turner is removed from office, the smart money is on 35-year-old Tito Jackson to win the special election to replace him. Jackson finished fifth in last year's at-large election, and was political director for Deval Patrick's re-election campaign.
Assuming these two additions, eight of the 13 council members will have less than four years' experience, individually, on the council.
But next year's city elections may undo at least one of those gains. Rumor is rampant that Michael Flaherty will run for his old at-large seat again in 2011, to set himself up for another try at mayor, or for Congress if Steve Lynch leaves for a 2012 US Senate campaign. Flaherty has been raising money, with more fundraisers planned before the end of the year.
People in regular contact with Flaherty differ on their assessment of this rumor — one says the council run is "90 percent certain, if not more," while others are more skeptical.
If he does run, most agree that Flaherty would win one of the four at-large seats — presumably knocking off either Pressley or Arroyo.
Picking a president
Even as the council becomes more progressive and independent, it may take "a step backward," as one insider puts it, with its choice of council president. Ross, who has led the council aggressively for two years, is ineligible to be re-elected, and it's likely that a more cautious member will get the nod in the January vote.
That decision is very much undecided at this point. Steve Murphy and Charles Yancey have openly lobbied for the job, but neither is believed to have the necessary seven votes. Murphy's chances are thought to be doomed if O'Malley wins next week — the new councilor will be in place in time for that vote, and O'Malley is unlikely to side with Murphy. The two don't get along; they were on opposing sides when Murphy ran for sheriff against Cabral, and for treasurer against Grossman, and O'Malley also backed Connolly in his 2007 challenge that endangered Murphy's at-large spot.
Yancey loses a key backer if Turner is removed from office; the special election will not be in time for the vote.
That has most insiders looking for a compromise. Competing mayoral ambitions likely rule out Connolly or Rob Consalvo, who would use the position to elevate their city-wide stature. They would also be in position to inherit the mayoral incumbency if Menino's health forces him to step down — a possibility that nobody predicts, but that colors everyone's calculations.
The likely pick will be one of the district councilors with no realistic ambition of becoming mayor. "A lot of us have interest in leadership of the body," says Linehan, who is supporting Murphy but sounds like he's already maneuvering for himself in Murphy's place. "I personally am not interested in running for mayor," he says. "So if that becomes a crucial element to becoming president, I'm looking at ending my career as councilor, not mayor."