The rumor mill

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  September 5, 2007

Sixth man in?
All these rumors about the at-large candidates suggest that, one way or another, the four winners of this November’s election might not all serve out their full terms. Murphy might in fact get a job with the Patrick administration, or run for some other office (a rematch with Sheriff Andrea Cabral, perhaps?). Arroyo or Yoon might find more interesting work than the mostly powerless Boston City Council provides. Flaherty, as noted above, might run for another office.

If any one of them leaves the Council, the seat goes to this election’s next-highest vote-getter — presumably Connolly, if he doesn't actually finish in the top four. Some are even saying that Connolly is running for fifth place, a charge that he adamantly denies.

But the real interest may lie in who finishes behind Connolly.

It is not much of a stretch to imagine this year’s sixth-place at-large finisher inheriting a seat on the council within the next two years.

That’s how Felix Arroyo, who finished sixth in 2001, got to the big leagues. In 2002, fifth-place finisher Rob Consalvo won a special election to replace Dan Conley as councilor from Hyde Park, after Conley was appointed District Attorney. That left Arroyo to ascend to the Council when Francis “Mickey” Roache became Register of Deeds that fall.

Councilors and staffers agree that the ascendance of this year’s number six is a serious possibility — and privately, they express outright horror at the prospect.

After all, usually there are six or more “serious” at-large candidates, so the bench is well stocked. Arroyo was considered to be a “serious” candidate, of course. And in 2005, the losers included Connolly, White, Flynn, and Matt O’Malley, all serious.

Not so this year. Battling for the sixth spot this year are Socialist Workers Party candidate Bill Estrada; Socialist Alternative candidate Matt Geary, a student at UMass Boston; 28-year-old Dorchester resident Marty Hogan, who is running on an anti-immigrant platform, and who finished 14th in the 2005 at-large preliminary; and African-American social conservative Republican David James Wyatt.

One of them may one day gain a seat in the council chamber, perhaps on the strength of just a couple of hundred total votes. You should see the blood drain out of “serious” councilors’ faces when you mention that.

Russian roulette
Early signs — such as an appearance with state senator Dianne Wilkerson — indicate that Connolly plans to run to the left. But to put together a winning coalition, he can’t afford to lose the support of the city’s “traditional” voters, who supported him in 2005.

A good bellwether for these votes is the Russian Jewish residents of Allston-Brighton. Connolly had their support in ’05, as did White — but not Arroyo or Yoon. And that could make all the difference.

In 2005, for instance, Naakh Vysoky, who organizes several hundred votes — if not more — at the Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly buildings on Wallingford Road, put Connolly on “the list” of recommended votes — and left off Murphy. Connolly beat Murphy by 317 votes in that single voting precinct, giving him a 193-vote edge in the citywide tally.

Then Vysoky added Murphy to the list for the general election, helping him retain his seat on the Council.

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