It may be a bit crass to make observations about the political implications of former Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s passing just days before the election but the fact is the timing hurts the chances of Democrat Martha Coakley winning the governor’s seat.
The longest-serving mayor in Boston’s history passed away Thursday after a battle with cancer. As expected, the state of Massachusetts in general and politics in particular came to a screeching halt. Campaigns suspended activities out of respect for Menino.
Practically speaking, Menino’s death and funeral on Monday, the day before the election, is bad news for Coakley because she trails Republican Charlie Baker by up to seven points in the polls. She needs exposure, platforms and message to try to close the gap in the final days. She won’t get it with all the news media covering the Menino passing and funeral.
Coakley still carries the Scott Brown albatross around her neck. Analysts revert back to that 2010 race in which she blew a big lead and lost the US Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy every time she slips.
For Coakley to have a chance to close the gap and win, she desperately needs these final days for a closing argument. The debates thus far have been pretty much a wash, no knockout punches. Meanwhile, Baker has successfully increased his previously dismal showing among women (it’s still not great) and has made a conscience effort in the state’s cities, usually Democratic strongholds.
In crass political terms, Baker benefits by the timing of Mayor Menino’s passing.