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Boston's Mayor for Life

It's hard to see how Tom Menino won't secure a history-making fifth term as Boston's mayor after yesterday's preliminary election--held to narrow the four candidate field down to two--in which he won a resounding 50.5 percent of the vote. Sam Yoon, the candidate who I thought had the best chance of unseating Menino, finished in third place, which means Menino's opponent on November 3 will be Michael Flaherty.

Flaherty, much like Yoon, is trying to win with a coalition of Boston's newcomers and younger voters--its yuppies, if you will--and the city's minority communities, but that's going to be a tall order. He not only badly trails Menino in the fundraising department, but now he has to contend with the fact that in the preliminary election--which had record-high turnout, something Yoon and Flaherty both said was key to their chances--Menino won a majority of the vote. It looks like this Boston mayoral race--which everyone agreed was the toughest election Menino has faced to date--has turned out to be something of a dud.

Menino, who unlike most politicians knows his own limitations, has no ambitions for higher office. (One of my favorite Menino stories, told by the mayor himself in this excellent Boston Magazine article, involves a brief run he made for Congress in 1991: "I left my safe base and went down to Brockton and Carver, Mass., whatever the hell that is. I remember going to Carver one night and we drove around in circles for an hour, couldn't find a way out of Carver, Mass. I says, 'This is a fish outta water for me.'") So I guess the only suspense now is whether four years from now Menino will seek to make it six.