Mayor White Outraces Mrs. Hicks...
Boston Mayor Kevin White surprised political experts by soundly defeating U.S. Representative Louise Day Hicks for first place in the September 14 preliminary elections for the office of mayor.
Despite predictions that the congresswoman would be the frontrunner in the election, White took first with a vote of 46,672 (33 per cent of the total), leaving Hicks with second place and 42,091 votes.
The White-Hicks victory in the preliminary elections puts their two names on the ballot and sets the stage for a tough rematch in the general mayoralty elections on November 2.
The last time Hicks and White competed was in the 1967 elections for mayor when the former Secretary of State White met defeat in the preliminaries, losing to Hicks by 13,000 votes. He went on to beat her in November by 12,429 votes.
After the defeat, Hicks ran a successful campaign for the office of U.S. Representative in the 1970 Congressional elections; and White lost an important race against Republican Francis W. Sargent in the 1969 gubernatorial election.
That election seemed to presage defeat for White in the 1971 mayoralty campaign since he failed to carry Boston. The city fell to a Republican--an unheard-of event in Boston politics. But on September 14 White surprised all predictions by placing first among six candidates.
The preliminary election was also important as it was the first time the newly registered 18, 19 and 20-year-olds could vote in a Boston election.
Poll watchers from the Globe reported a disappointingly small turnout a new voters although exact statistics are not yet available.
About 12,000 under-21 voters were registered in Boston since January more than enough to have made a critical difference in the Hicks-White campaign where fewer than 5000 votes separated the two candidates.
If anything the new voters in Boston may have had a conservative influence since they were most concentrated in West Roxbury and Hyde Park--two conservative areas which went for Hicks.
The decisive factor in the November election could be the total vote for City Councilman Joseph F. Timilty--the dark horse candidate who came in third with a total of 28,000 votes.
Timilty ran as the "alternative" candidate for those voters who could neither stomach Hicks nor face another term of an unpalatable White Administration.
In her post-election speech Tuesday night, Hicks--describing the Timilty vote as "conservative"--predicted that she would receive his vote and win the November election.
A poll run for the White campaign by Tully Plesser, the same man who does polls for Lindsay and Nixon, indicates that at least half of Timilty's vote will go to White.
This vote, added to the votes of the three other losing candidates--Councilman Thomas I. Atkins, Councilman John L. Saltonstall Jr. and Socialist Workers Party candidate John E. Powers Jr.--should provide enough votes to swing the November election for the Mayor.
This election will not be an easy one, however. Neither Atkins nor Saltonstall has openly endorsed White, in contrast to the 1967 elections when both Edward Logue and John Sears, the two other liberal candidates, openly supported White. And the decisive Timilty vote is far from certain.
Running with the slogan of "In times like these, you need a guy like him" and with a campaign chest of over a quarter of a million dollars, Kevin White has by far the most efficient campaign of the election.
Since June, White's campaign has been organized by John Marttila, the 30-year-old professional campaign manager who led Fr. Robert F. Drinan to victory last year.
Marttila conducted 17 polls, created 14 neighborhood headquarters, and sent out several well-done fliers.
Although emphasizing his administration's accomplishments like the Little City Halls, Summerthing and the Coordinating Council on Drug Abuse, it was the efficiency of the campaign, rather than the issues, which won White the election.
The Mayor ran better than even Marttila expected. "The current wisdom is that she'll win by about 15,000 votes. I think it will be closer than that," Marttila had predicted on the Sunday before the elections (Boston Globe, September 12).
White won nine wards as compared with only one ward in 1967. He did surprisingly well in Italian-American East Boston and also in Roxbury where--despite the campaign of Black Councilman Atkins--he captured 40 per cent of the black vote. The elderly, who constitute 25 per cent of the Boston electorate, also supported him heavily.
White even succeeded in the Irish and blue-collar areas which were thought to be resentful of his new property tax rate hike and where he is known as "Mayor Black" because of his liberal policies toward the ghettos.
Louise Day Hicks, on the other hand, ran her typical low-keyed campaign with the slogan "You know where I stand." This refers to her position in the early 1960s while she was chairman of the Boston School Committee and opposed busing school children to achieve integration.
This conservative woman candidate--an enigma in this age of Women's Liberation--has run in seven races for five offices in the last ten years.
John Day, her campaign manager and brother, said that the Hicks campaign spent less than $50,000 on the preliminary and was run by 1400 volunteers. "Louise is the greatest asset to the campaign. Her presence makes loads and loads of converts to her cause. She has a charisma for people," Day said about his sister in the Boston Globe (September 12).
Hicks had received extensive news coverage in the two weeks before the elections as she sided with parents who were refusing to let their children be bussed to the Joseph Lee Elementary School in Dorchester to satisfy the federal law for school integration.
Against a background of country and western music played by the Shannonites, Hicks interpreted her victory as a victory for "law and order" at the victory celebration Tuesday night at the Statler-Hilton Hotel. "The vote tomorrow will show that Kevin and I are close, but it will also show that the people of Boston want law and order brought back to the city," Hicks told her workers.
And although she had previously criticized Timilty as ungrateful for running against her when she had helped him to become city councillor, she seemed to be wooing the Timilty vote at her victory party.
Atkins--the first black to make a try for Boston's mayoralty--ran a very poor fourth with 16,886 votes or 12 per cent of the total. He won three out of the four Roxbury wards and North Dorchester.
Stressing the importance of decentralizing the city government, Atkins had only $50,000 in his budget. Rumor has it that Atkins is in line for a federal job when he finishes his post as councillor.