‘KISSING THE PINKIE RING’
BY JOE HEISLER
They didn’t quite bow down, but the score or more of politicians who showed up in Readville last Friday for Mayor Tom Menino’s annual barbecue all had homage on their minds — homage to His Honor on the ninth anniversary of his swearing in as Boston’s mayor.
Every July 12, the Menino campaign committee throws a block party on Chesterfield Street to celebrate that occasion. The event typically draws between 500 and 600 people to this small, largely Italian-American enclave, including scores of high-ranking city officials. But those ranks swelled this year as Democratic candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, district attorney, and several State House seats showed up to vie for attention from one of the state’s most powerful elected officials.
" I came to kiss the ring, " said one local candidate, tongue-in-cheek, who nonetheless asked that his name not be used for fear of angering the mayor.
Several hotly contested local races — West Roxbury, South Boston, Charlestown, Mission Hill, Brighton — and a fierce district attorney’s fight are expected to significantly drive up Boston’s turnout in the September 17 state Democratic primary. With his city’s share of the statewide vote potentially as high as 20 percent — and with a ready-made army of loyal city employees to turn them out — Menino’s influence extends far beyond Boston’s 22 voting wards.
Just ask Tom Birmingham or Warren Tolman, two gubernatorial candidates who made it a point to stop by last week. So did Chris Gabrieli, running for lieutenant governor, and City Councilor Stephen Murphy, running for state treasurer. Both Democratic district-attorney candidates, Dan Conley and Brian Honan, were there, as were state-representative candidates from all across the city. Even Cambridge city councilor Anthony Galluccio, who’s running for Birmingham’s open Senate seat in a district that includes only parts of the city (Charlestown and Allston-Brighton), made it a point to show up.
" Any opportunity to see the mayor is a welcome opportunity for Tom Birmingham, " says Paul Wingle, the gubernatorial candidate's spokesperson. " Tom’s attendance is a sign of the friendship, respect, and admiration he has for the mayor ... and he also likes block parties. "
Brian Wallace, who’s running for state representative from Southie, was more to the point. " With a political organization in every corner of the city, " he says, " every candidate would love to have his [Menino’s] support ... conversely, you don’t want him against you. So if you are lucky enough to be invited, you go. You don’t ask questions. "
Issue Date: July 18 - 25, 2002
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