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A White Knight


By William E. Mckibben

Kevin White has led a building administration. During his stint as mayor, four skyscrapers, the new City Hall, Quincy Market and a dozen other big projects have sprouted in the city.

But more than anything else, White has concentrated on building an organization, a machine that came through for him once more last Tuesday.

White, challenged by three other candidates, nevertheless pulled in 42 per cent of the vote, a lead he should have little problem parlaying into a fourth term as the city's chief executive in the final election Nov. 6.

His challenger in that election, the man who finished second in the primary, is State Sen. Joseph F. Timilty. Timilty is convinced that enough anti-White votes exist in Boston to carry him to victory in his third attempt to unseat White.

Timilty has a Herculean chore ahead of him if he is to pick up the votes cast in the primary for state rep Melvin H. King and school committee president David Finnegan.

King, the only black candidate, cut into White's traditional minority and liberal support, carrying the black wards that have traditionally gone to the mayor and picking up votes in White's home turf, the liberal Back Bay. In November, these votes are apt to return to White's camp.

Finnegan, despite a campaign that never got off the ground, hurt both the mayor and Timilty, picking up votes in West Roxbury and Dorchester. If even half of Finnegan's supporters switch to White, the mayor will have very close to the majority he needs.

Timilty will try to close the gap by confronting the mayor. He has already issued a debate challenge to the mayor, and he announced to campaign workers last week that he had "taken his gloves off" for the final campaign. But Timilty is addressing issues most Bostonians care little about--the use of city workers in the incumbent's campaign, for example, a virtually unassailable Boston tradition.

Timilty probably wouldn't be able to find any more overwhelming issues to run on this year anyway. Busing is done with, despite the political comebacks of Louise Day Hicks and Pixie Palladino, strong performers in the city council and school committee preliminaries. And campaign news will have to fight for newspaper space with the Pope's visit and the dedication of the Kennedy Library, complete with President Carter and Ted Kennedy.

Even if Timilty tries to raise some real questions about city government, the voters are unlikely to let them intrude on the election. White has a name, a carefully built organization, and, more than likely, a fourth term as mayor of Boston.

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