There I said it. But think about it before you deny it out of reflex — Tom Menino should run for Senate in 2012 for two simple reasons:
- He’d be a great Senator, and stands on the progressive side on the issues
- He would win the election
It’s not as obvious a choice as a sitting Congressperson, but I think there are compelling reasons for Menino to consider running, and for voters to consider him. He faces some obstacles toward a candidacy, yes, but so would any candidate, including Senator Brown. Below I want to explore some of those reasons.
Menino as Senator
Since Senator Kennedy’s passing, we’ve not had a senator who works hard to deal with individual concerns of his constituents. Kennedy’s office was legendary and responsive. Brown and Kerry have a fixed focus on their own career, and the people of the Commonwealth are screwed. A form letter is the best one usually gets out of either office. However, Menino has a responsive operation in City Hall. For over a year, an iPhone app has given citizens a way to connect with city hall directly, and even keep a ticket number to track the response.
Plus, I can imagine few people less likely to get trapped in the DC bubble. Menino became famous (infamous?) for biking the streets himself when he can, and getting potholes and lamplights fixed based on his own observations.
The guy keeps his focus where it belongs: the work. After 16 years in the city of Chuck Turner, it’s near impossible to come through with clean hands. Despite the Globe‘s Pulitzer-hunting, the only whiff of anything on Menino is maybe some possibility of inartful behavior at some point in a zoning process. All these accomplishments have occurred without the mixed record of questionable or embarrassing votes that accumulates around any legislator.
Still, Menino is right on the issues. The recent bubble in headline grabbing crime obscures Boston’s steadily sinking crime rate. His experience with education reform led to the Boston public system earning a Board Award — Boston students outscore the average American on national tests, even as the best students are scooped up by private and charter schools. He has teamed up with Bloomberg to take on the NRA and tell the truth about the centrality in guns in making the streets of cities less safe. Menino has spoken at length about hybrid fuels and has put in place incentives for their use in Boston. He has defended the environmentally friendly plans of the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
Menino would win.
Menino has access to funds, and organization. Remember, he was second only to Kennedy in landing the 2004 Democratic convention.
He’s more popular than most any big city mayor, and anybody in Suffolk County likely owes him something. Especially in 2012 Menino could expect to crush Brown in Boston. Remember his fearsome turnout machine — which bested Patrick’s and Kennedy’s efforts in Boston during the 2008 presidential primaries.
But there’s more. Can you picture Scott Brown outhustling somebody who’s met 57 percent of Boston adults. And no barn coat and truck will out-common guy Menino. That’s impossible. Menino is a product of Massachusetts more than Brown.
Take away the common guy, Bay State born-n-bred image of Brown, what does he run on? His record of being Mitch McConnell’s hand puppet?
Menino has a successful tenure as a mayor of Boston, but clearly needs to find new challenges. I don’t know if he has the slightest interest in running for Senator, but I would trust him before most political peacocks from either party. What say you?