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Civic-minded votes all over Boston must have sighed with relief yesterday. James Michael Curley's withdrawal seemed to justify their hopes that the Purple Shamrock and his machine had finally run out of gas.
Unfortunately, Curley's move is nothing more than an old trick, used to get free publicity and lull his opponents into political lethargy. Boston's Plan A char--lends a new twist to this ancient gag by forbidding removal of a candidate's name from the ballot. Taking advantage of this, Curley can campaign secretly--promising a job here, some boodle there, and a free hand everywhere in exchange for support--while keeping up the pretense of not running. Then, backed by a powerful coalition, he can suddenly re-enter the contest and catch his opposition off guard.
By amending the Boston charter to allow clearing the ballot of Curley's name, the State Legislature could make short work of this strategy. But the House of Representatives, full of Curley Democrats, will balk. Curley made sure of additional support on Beacon Hill by praising Dever and the state Democrats to the limit in his "withdrawal" announcement.
However, the final decision on Curley rests with Boston voters. After many years of the old pirate, they ought to see through his political trickery.
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