Sources close to The Crimson predicted last night that Cambridge's acting mayor, Francis H. Duchay '55, will be elected the city's next mayor in a close vote tonight at City Hall.
Since the late Mayor Leonard J. Russell's death on June 13, speculation on a likely successor has focused on City Councilors Daniel C. Clinton, Walter J. Sullivan and Duehay.
But it now appears that a good deal of recent horsetrading between the city's two political factions--the liberal Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) and the loosely affiliated Independents--bas left Duchay the favorite to cop the largely ceremonial spot, Cambridge officials said yesterday.
Political observers around the city last night said that Duchay, a CCA-backed candidate since he first took office in 1964, would gain a majority of five votes from the three other CCA councilors and another from one of the so-called Independents in the City Council.
Councilor Alfred E. Vellucci, who in his 38 years on the council has seen more mayoral elections than any other member, said he will probably vote for an Independent, but said the group has not formally endorsed any one candidate. He said, however, that the "CCA has probably been in close touch since day one," and is more organized.
Under Cambridge's system of government, the city councilors-select a mayor from within their own ranks.
When the nine-member body last met on July 15, City Councilors David E. Sullivan and Alice X. Wolf delayed mayoral balloting until Saundra M. Graham, another CCA-affiliated councilor, could lend her support, Now that Graham has returned from her trip to Kenya, Duehay, having garnered support from one unidentified Independent, is expected to win the contest.
A city hall source added that the family of the late mayor would like to see Duehay succeed Russell, since the two were close colleagues.
"Since the late Lenny Russell died, the mayor's job has been successfully and dutifully performed by Duehay," one city councilor said about the acting mayor.
Duehay, a 52 year-old public affairs consultant, refused to speculate on his mayoral bid last night, saying only that it was "too close to call." A four-term school committee member and a city councilor since 1971. Duehay was mayor for a two-year term that began in 1980.
Clinton's Fading Chances
For a while, Independent City Councilor Daniel C. Clinton appeared to have the best shot at the top spot on the council. A 48-year-old resident of Cambridgeport who has been a city councilor for 10 of the last 14 years, Clinton is the only veteran who has never held the mayor's seat.
Cambridge politicos also said that Clinton, a former postman who barely won the last spot on the City Council in the 1983 election, is especially vulnerable this election year because city council newcomer Alfred W. LaRosa could steal some of Clinton's East Cambridge votes.
Two-time mayor Walter J. Sullivan, the other city councilor mentioned as a possible contender this time around, has been the top vote-getter in Cambridge for the last 12 years. Widely considered the most powerful Independent, the Middlesex County employee could be looking to be the city's highest official in 1986, when the council must choose another mayor, observers said yesterday.
In Cambridge, a mayor is paid $18,432 for sitting on the city council, $10,000 for chairing the seven-member school board, and an additional $1000 for representing the city at ceremonial events.
The mayor's office also has three staff members and an operating budget of $245,000--most of which is used for a summer jobs programs for Cambridge youths.
Most city councilors contacted last night refused to say whom they would support, but all agreed that there was a great deal of political jockeying going on for the chair.
LaRosa, who is filling the remainder of Russell's term, said last night that the CCA, the Independents, and several special interest groups have been lobbying heavily for his vote. "Al LaRosa will not be pressured," said the 14-year researcher for the state legislature, adding he will vote for the best man and not the oldest veteran