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Keller @ Large: Boston Mayor’s Race Is Wide Open

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420x316-grad-keller2 Jon Keller
Veteran Boston political commentator Jon Keller is heard every weekday...
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BOSTON (CBS) – With Mayor Tom Menino’s announcement he will not seek re-election, the mayor’s race is wide open.

Ray Flynn, who won the last open mayoral race, should know.

“This election will not be won by special interests or paid commercials,” Flynn said. “Everybody has a chance.”

Few gave him a chance when he ran.

Flynn says the candidates for mayor will need to spend time knocking on doors, walking neighborhoods and meeting people in subway stations.

But with the incumbent stepping aside, and the old coalitions of Boston politics weakened by a diverse influx of newer residents, the race to succeed Menino may well be a triumph of the personal over the political.

For veteran city activist Rev. Eugene Rivers, this race is about forging new alliances to replace those of the Menino era.

“The black community’s got to transcend our need for symbolism because we don’t have a credible candidate,” Rivers said. “My sense is this race will come down to a strategic alliance which will be the first, between the black community and some of our political representatives in South Boston like Marty Walsh and John Connolly so it will sort of be a black and green strategic coalition.”

So who has political credibility and the capacity to inspire trust?

A prototype outsider might be veteran health care activist Bill Walczak, with ties to both the business and non-profit worlds.

But don’t discount the insider likes of State Rep. Marty Walsh of Dorchester, who draws support from both labor and liberals.

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