A Special Election would take place if Walsh were to leave before March 6
Several sources are reporting that Mayor Martin Walsh has been picked by President-Elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the incoming Secretary of Labor in Washington, D.C.
Politio.com reported at 1:30 p.m. Thursday that Walsh, who led the Boston Building Trades prior to becoming mayor, was the incoming president’s choice to be the Labor Secretary.
President-elect Joe Biden has not made the official announcement, but is expected to make it official within 24 hours. Were he to leave, it would mean Council President Kim Janey would become Acting Mayor – making her the first African American to be the mayor of Boston.
Janey said she was ready to take the reins if Mayor Walsh were confirmed as the next Labor Secretary.
“I want to start by congratulating Mayor Walsh on his nomination for U.S. Secretary of Labor,” she said. “His deep love for the City, and his dedication to working people and good jobs, have left a remarkable impact, and his legacy will show that dedication. Should Mayor Walsh be confirmed by the Senate, I am ready to take the reins and lead our city through these difficult times. I look forward to working with the Walsh administration and my colleagues on the Council to ensure a smooth transition, as we
address the unprecedented challenges facing our city.”
Walsh had no comment immediately on the matter of his departure.
However, Councilor Michelle Wu – who is running for mayor – enjoyed breaking the news somewhat before it became official in issuing a statement shortly after the Politico story. That, of course, is something the mayor did for her last fall when he “outed” her mayoral campaign to The Boston Globe before she officially announced it.
“Congratulations to Mayor Marty Walsh on his nomination as Labor Secretary for the Biden Administration,” said Wu. “He will be the first union member to serve in this role in nearly 50 years, and his leadership will come at a critical time for the labor movement. There is much work to do to clean up the backwards, anti-worker policies of the Trump administration that have hurt so many here in our city, and Boston needs a partner to fight for working families at the federal level.”
The other announced mayoral candidate, District 4 Councilor Andrea Campbell – a former Council President – also issued a statement Thursday afternoon.
“Congratulations to Mayor Walsh on his nomination as Secretary of Labor – a fitting role for someone who has spent his entire career fighting for working people in and out of public service,” she said. “The realities of deep division in our country and city have never been more clear than they have this year – amidst a pandemic and yesterday’s domestic attack on our democracy. For Boston, there’s so much at stake in 2021 as we look to recover from this pandemic and reimagine what our city can be without persistent inequities. I know Mayor Walsh will be a partner in that work in this new role.”
Others that had been suggested alongside Walsh were Congressman Andy Levin of Michigan, former Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris, California Labor Secretary Julie Su and AFL-CIO Chief Economist Bill Spriggs, according to the Politico.com report and other previous media reports.
The potential departure of Mayor Walsh also brings about questions about timing. Were he to leave before March 6, that would trigger a Special Election for mayor in June. According to the City Charter, there would be no Special Election for any office 16 months after a Municipal Election, and March 6 would be that cutoff date.
A Special Election would trigger a virtual cascade of candidate, most insiders agree, including many on the City Council and in the State Delegation – both those now serving and those who have recently left service.
One name that can be ruled out immediately is District 1 Councilor Lydia Edwards, who confirmed she will not run in a Special Election.
“I am not running for mayor in no way, shape or form,” she said. “I’m interested in the City staying stable and focused and getting it through one of the most difficult times ever, which is the pandemic and a potential economic recession. People need to stay focused and do their jobs now.”
Charlestown State Rep. Dan Ryan also said he isn’t interested in running either.
Meanwhile, most on the Council are at first-glance considered potential candidates.
That went for many in the state delegation as well, including State Representatives and State Senators.
Some names floated around off the bat are Council President Janey, South Boston State Sen. Nick Collins, Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, Councilor Michael Flaherty, State Rep. Jay Livingstone, State Rep. Jon Santiago, former Dorchester State Sen. Linda Forry and even Police Commissioner Willie Gross.
Late on Thursday, a source said that State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, of the North End, would be interested in running for mayor if Walsh were to be confirmed and leave for the Nation’s capital. In doing so, he would not have to give up his state rep seat or his powerful Ways & Means Chairmanship.
Any Special Election would mean candidates could run without consequence of losing their Council or Legislative seats.
It would mean there would likely also be a Preliminary Election in September, and a Municipal General Election in November.
In some scenarios, Boston could potentially have four mayors in one year due to the timing of all the elections.