Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Preliminary Election Results: Menino vs. Flaherty

The results are in, and it looks like we're in for a final election of Menino vs. Menino Light. The voters seem to have confirmed the prevailing wisdom. Menino has done a pretty decent job running the city, and the fact that he more than doubled the votes of his closest opponent solidifies his position as the formidable incumbent.

However, there are signs that Boston is ready for a change. After sixteen years of consolidating power and influence into his own hands, Menino may be holding the city back. If voters are ready to put Mumbles out to pasture, Flaherty is the natural successor. A city councilman who modeled his career after Menino, Flaherty was even described by the Boston Globe as, "the Menino of 1993 returning to haunt the 2009 version." Flaherty has portrayed himself all along as the updated version of the old model. He's Menino 2.0: reliable, trustworthy, and updated for a new era.

Yet over a quarter of the voters rejected both Menino and Flaherty, something that is at once invigorating and crushing for anybody dissatisfied with the status quo. Invigorating because with a campaign almost solely driven by the premise that Menino has too much power, Sam Yoon came within 2300 votes of overtaking Flaherty. Invigorating because Kevin McCrea, who ran a campaign around the notion that business as usual shouldn't be tolerated, garnered over 4 percent of the vote. And crushing because had Yoon's and McCrea's votes been consolidated by one progressive candidate, we might be looking at a real referendum on the status quo in November. Instead we're forced to choose between Menino and Menino 2.0.

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