District 7 key to political ‘game of chess’

May 4, 2017 GMT

A District 7 candidate hitching his wagon to Mayor Martin J. Walsh could stand out in a crowded city council race on Tito Jackson’s turf, City Hall watchers said, and several rivals said they would weigh backing or taking support from the mayor as they build their campaigns.

Fourteen candidates have pulled papers to run for the seat, which Jackson is vacating in order to challenge Walsh for mayor, and are in the midst of gathering signatures to make the ballot for the Sept. 26 preliminary election.

A large field means a small difference in turnout will separate the winners from the losers, former City Councilor Michael McCormack said, and endorsing Walsh or getting an endorsement from him would boost a candidate’s chances.

“Any publicity that elevates your name recognition could be a positive on Election Day,” McCormack said. “If you can make a case that it’s your intention to work with Mayor Walsh, and by working with the mayor you can help the community, it may work because it’s not going to take much to get to the finish.”

Former City Councilor Larry DiCara said it’s going to be a game of chess for the candidates.

“In this district, endorsing Tito for mayor is a relatively safe thing to do, but if there’s eight people on the ballot and seven endorse Tito and one endorses Marty, then the Marty Walsh voters in the district might pull the lever for them,” he said.

Jackson has previously said he would not endorse in the District 7 race, but the Walsh campaign was noncomittal.

“The mayor looks forward to learning about the candidates,” a campaign spokeswoman said in a statement when asked if Walsh would back anyone.

The crop of hopefuls includes previous candidates, such as Roy Owens, Charles Clemons Muhammad and disgraced former state Rep. Carlos Henriquez, as well as community activists like Kim Janey, Deeqo Jibril and many other first-time candidates. Community activist Joao DePina said he has reached out to both Walsh and Jackson’s campaigns to discuss support.

“The door’s open for both of them,” DePina said.

Neighborhood activist Brian Keith said he would “play it by ear” for endorsing in the mayoral race as he also runs for the district seat, and he’d be open to support from the mayoral candidates as well.

“We’d definitely entertain it,” he said, “but we’d want to make sure our values as a campaign are reflected in a major way by the person offering support.”