I was recently asked:
"I would like to see an analysis from A View from Battleship Cove, of the current state delegation or School Committee or City Council or even wild card non-politicians that might enter the race who would actually stand a chance at beating Flanagan?"
Well as of today, right now, the simple short answer would be no one. I think Will is very vulnerable but I don't know if I see any candidates who successfully exploit that and beat him. But let's take a look at some "potential" candidates and ponder their chances.
On the School Committee...
The only member of the school committee that I think is even remotely possible is Mark Costa. Although my proofreader points out the chairman has a pretty good shot. Back to Mark.. I think Mark has all those qualities that make for a good candidate. He's likable, communicates well, shows passion, seems sincere. At one time the Herald News speculated he could be a candidate for Mayor in 2007, despite only having served one term on the school committee! I think that would have been overly ambitious. Now I think Mark faces the opposite problem, if he's looking to jump to higher office he hasn't been ambitious enough, at least not to make a run for Mayor. He was elected to the school committee in 2005 and he's never shown any interest in making a run for council despite having good opportunities in 2007 and 2009.
Lefty's View: I think Mark is better off, at least for the time being, sticking to the school committee.
Amongst the City Council....
On the City Council there are four names I've heard bandied about: Brad Kilby, Eric Poulin, Ray Mitchell, and Linda Pereira.
Honestly, I would rule Linda right out. She didn't do well in her run against Sullivan. I'm pretty sure she finished in the bottom half of the pack in the last council race. I'm not sure she has enough of a base to even make a run for Mayor credible.
Lefty's View: Reelection to the council is almost certain.
Ray Mitchell is enjoying a rather nice comeback. He was the top voter getter in the last council race, he's the newly elected Council Vice-President. Is a run for Mayor in the cards? I think Mitchell is very content with serving on the Council and I think Mitchell wants to be involved.
Lefty's View: Why risk a strong chance at re-election to the City Council with a long shot at the 6th floor?
Of course, there are a lot of people who would like to see Eric Poulin take another stab at the Mayor's office. Heck I may even be one of them, but right now is not the time. Eric is probably the most interesting election to our City Council. When he ran in 2009, he did so with very little political capital, just really the name recognition he built in his race in 2007. Eric ran few ads, few commercials, and used no signs or bumper stickers. Eric was elected not because he had the support of the powers-that-be but because he ran a real grassroots campaign.
Lefty's View: Poulin will need to put a few more council terms behind him before those grassroots become solid enough to support a mayoral bid.
Of course Brad Kilby also ran for Mayor in 2007. I've said this before that Kilby didn't communicate his platform well enough, didn't connect with people well enough in that bid. Now Brad won reelection to the council in 2009 running a very low key campaign. Yet, Brad was one of the top vote getters, which tells me that he has a strong support amongst the voters.
Lefty's View: Brad remains in my mind a strong potential challenger. He does need to work on connecting with people but I see a lot about Kilby's 2007 run and the state of the city today that could be real assets if he decided to become a candidate in 2011.
Our local delegation...
Amongst our local delegation neither Senator Rodrigues or Representative Schmid our eligible to run for Mayor. That leaves Representatives David Sullivan and Kevin Aguiar.
I've been hearing gripes that Kevin Aguiar hasn't been attentive enough to his constituents. Though Aguiar won reelection he did so after winning a fairly close primary contest.
Lefty's View: Kevin served several terms on the School Committee and has a core of support but he he hasn't proven himself yet in Boston and he's always dogged with accusations that would be sure to resurface if he decided to run for Mayor.
My first thoughts on Dave Sullivan were that he is a lot like Eric Poulin. He doesn't seem to be the favorite of the powers-that-be but he's a sincere and hard working politician. He's also a bit like Kilby, in that he needs to work on communication his platform and reaching people more effectively. However I may not be giving enough credit to Representative Sullivan.
Lefty's View: In 2007 Dave made it through through the primaries and raised enough money to be competitive with Bob Correia. No small feat in such a crowded field. I'm thinking Dave could certainly be a strong challenger if he decided to run in 2011, but would he want to risk his seat in Boston?
From the Outside Looking In....
Former City Councilor Cathy Ann Viveiros has been seen as Mayor Flanagan's most likely challenger. Not only is Cathy Ann intelligent and capable, she comes across that way. Cathy Ann can articulate her points and hold her own in a debate. Honestly I thought she out-debated Will in 2009. Cathy-Ann however faces several problems. She is currently not holding any office and that hurts her credibility somewhat. She also has run several times before without winning. That gives her the perception of someone who can't win, and somebody who maybe wants the office a little too much.
Lefty's View: I have no doubts that Cathy-Ann will enter the ring but to win she's going to need to come out hard, run very aggressively, and find a way to build up enough of a campaign war chest.
Stefani Koorey is a local activist and Lizzie Borden aficionado. Stefani is very intelligent and very articulate. She offers the perspective of an outsider, which to me means she sees the potential and isn't caught up in some of the defeatist attitudes we usually see. She also has a passion for Fall River's history. I think the combination gives us someone who sees how the city could move forward but is going to be respectful and protective of its past. However she faces huge challenges in fund-raising, name recognition, and just being considered a serious candidate.
Lefty's View: Honestly in the past I would have ruled her chances as being "zilch". However two years ago I looked at Will Flanagan as someone had never had local political office, had no name recognition, and figured he had no chance. Of course he's now Mayor! I also thought his message was vague and lacked substance. That is not something I would say about Koorey.
In the end, I think a crowded field will certainly hand Flanagan a reelection win. If the field remains small the right challenger could make it a race.