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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Scene stealer

What if they had a Senate debate and nobody cared?

The five candidates vying for two nominations to replace John Kerry squared off in televised debates last night. But the political world could have cared less. Five-term Boston Mayor Tom Menino is reportedly calling it quits.

The decision has no direct effect on the 625,087 residents who live outside the city's 22 wards. No one in Cambridge, let alone Provincetown or Pittsfield, has ever voted for the man.

But his rumored retirement (kudos to former Phoenician David Bernstein who had the freedom to run with it) just about sucked out the political oxygen from the five men hoping to get some much needed exposure in last night's debates. If, like me, you didn't see the twin debates, they just as well may not have happened.

It's not so much that the Boston dailies will be all Menino, all the time between the yesterday's rumors and today's scheduled 4 p.m. Faneuil Hall event. But when the story plays high on website of The Springfield Republican, with nary a word about the Senate debate, then the five hopefuls have reason for concern about losing even more time to make their names and positions known to voters.

And that's just print media. With Boston television and radio dominating what passes for news outside Route 128, it might as well never have happened. Even WCVB-TV, which hosted the debates, gave Menino the top spot this morning.

That's not to say the planned retirement is not major news, nor that Menino planned the timing. But in a news media obsessed with the pursuit of rumor, particularly juicy ones like this, it was the worst nightmare come true for the Senate wannabes, who lost a valuable opportunity to dominate office and Internet chatter for several days at least.

Unless the wily Menino has something up his sleeve.

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