History shows Capuano, Galvin need not fret
The bad news for US Rep. Mike Capuano and Secretary of State Bill Galvin is that they have primary opponents in their reelection bids this year.
The good news is, their opponents are Boston city councilors, which means they have approximately three chances of defeating the two sixtysomething incumbents:
Slim, fat and none.
The Commonwealth of Virginia used to be called “the Mother of Presidents.” The Boston City Council is the mother of losers. Oh sure, your average city councilor – and at best, they’re average – can still elected to one of those forgotten-but-not-gone county posts, like register of probate, or deeds, or clerk of courts.
But serious political office? Forget about it. Don’t get me wrong, being a city councilor is not a bad gig. You get $200,000 for “staff,” and the salary, at least until the next pay raise, is $99,500. Think about that – just under $100,000. You might say Boston city councilors are “on sale.” Or is it for sale?
Actually, though, there’s really nothing to buy from them. The Boston City Council has zero power. They used to meet once a week, on Wednesdays, but now I think it may be down to every other week. I guess there aren’t as many Bostonians turning 100, so they don’t to take those tough votes on which centenarians get congratulations, as well as the traditional commemorative Beanpot.
To more fully understand the Council’s utter irrelevance, let’s consider the higher elective office that city councilors traditionally aspire to – mayor of Boston. Here is an alphabetical list of people who were Boston city councilors at one time or another who have run for mayor since 1967:
Felix Arroyo, Tom Atkins, Bruce Bolling, John Connolly, Rob Consalvo, Peggy Davis-Mullen, Larry DiCara, Baby Flats Flaherty, Ray Flynn, Maura Hennigan, Peter Hines, Barry Hynes, Chris Iannella, Tito Jackson, Freddy Langone, Tom Menino, Dapper O’Neil, Mickey Roache, Michael Ross, Rosario “Sister Sunshine” Salerno, John Saltonstall, John Sears, Joe Tierney, Joe Timilty, Charles Yancey and Sam Yoon.
That’s 26, and for those of you keeping score at home, exactly two of them – Flynn and Menino – ever became mayor. And only Raybo won election while serving on the City Council.
As Barney Frank used to say, “Only two things can happen if you run for Boston City Council, and both of them are bad. Number one, you might lose. Number two, you might win.”
Actually, there are good things about the job, other than the fact that the statesmen’s pay is about to go up yet again, to $103,000. The late Chris Iannella once pulled aside a new member of the body and asked him if he knew the best part of being on the Boston City Council.
“The parking spaces,” Chris whispered to him.
By the way, Chris’s son Richie was also a city councilor, and he eventually moved up, or sideways, into the office of register of probate. He succeeded ex-councilor Jim Connolly, and was in turn succeeded by ex-councilor Felix Arroyo, father of another bust-out councilor named Felix Arroyo.
These invisible county posts are the only kind of job a city councilor can realistically expect to ascend to, and so they’re passed down among the Council’s also-rans. Maura Hennigan is the clerk of courts, succeeding another ex-councilor, John Nucci. In addition to running unsuccessfully for mayor, Maura also failed in a bid for state auditor, as did ex-councilor Charles Yancey, yet another failed mayoral candidate.
Two city councilors ran for High Sheriff – Steve Murphy and Dapper O’Neil. They both lost. Two unsuccessfully tried to become treasurer – Murphy, again, twice, in 2002 and 2010, and Larry DiCara in 1978.
Poor Larry, he had to wait five years to lose his next attempt to move up, to mayor.
As for the other failed treasurer candidate from the Council, Steve Murphy, in 2016 he finally got himself one of those died-and-gone-to-heaven county sinecures, register of deeds, succeeding ex-councilor Mickey Roache.
Which brings us to the latest two city councilors improbably trying to move up – Ayanna Pressley running for Congress, and Josh Zakim for secretary of state.
They’re trying to cash in on the Democrat party’s return to its roots, namely its old “one-drop” blood rule from the Jim Crow days. Only now the one drop isn’t black blood, it’s Irish blood. There’s an ethnic cleansing underway against white heterosexual Irish Catholic males who were born and grew up around here.
There’s no particular reason Galvin and Capuano (he’s Irish on his mother’s side, not that being half-Italian makes him any less of a pariah among the Beautiful People) should have primary opponents, other than they’re what the PC Posse would call “good old boys.”
As they consider the campaigns ahead, I’m sure Capuano and Galvin are grateful for their opponents. Given their ethnic, religious and gender handicaps, either would be vulnerable to an ambitious young pol in a protected class who holds an elective office with some actual responsibility and authority.
Is it too late for some local town tree warden or library trustee to pull papers? They’d be taken a lot more seriously than any member of the Boston City Council.