The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
Media -- Dont Quote Me  |  News Features  |  Talking Politics  |  This Just In

Can Sam Yoon win?

An Obama-loving city counselor aims to be mayor of Boston
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  February 11, 2009


Recent elections, as you may have heard, have been about change.

Newcomer Deval Patrick beat back the candidate of Beacon Hill and City Hall, Attorney General Tom Reilly, in 2006. And while the good old boys and girls of Massachusetts backed Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama two years later, it was Obama who walked away with the nomination, and ultimately the presidency.

But before them, although on a much smaller stage, Sam Yoon turned the trick here in Boston, stunning the insiders by winning an at-large city council seat in 2005 as a virtual unknown, beating three scions of powerful political families: John Connolly, Ed Flynn, and Patricia White.

Since then, Yoon — who declared himself a candidate for mayor earlier this week — has joined the grassroots "change" coalition of progressives, minorities, college students, and young professionals who gave Patrick and Obama victories in Boston and nationally — while Mayor Tom Menino in both cases backed the establishment candidates, only to be left behind by his own city.

This recent history, of change triumphing over establishment, has not dimmed the view of political oddsmakers, who say this year's race remains Menino's to lose.

Change in Washington, or even on Beacon Hill, is abstract — decided on TV and YouTube, based on feelings and platitudes. Mayor of Boston, on the other hand, is more nuts and bolts than hope and change. It is a powerful job affecting daily lives. It is not glamorous — and neither is Menino.

And Yoon, many observers point out, is no Patrick or Obama. He is a slight man, without a commanding stump presence. Born in Korea, he has no clear claim on the African-American voters whose tallies went overwhelmingly to Patrick and Obama.

The most daunting difference: neither Patrick nor Obama faced the difficult challenge of having to unseat an incumbent, as Yoon must do — that is, assuming, as nearly everyone does, that Menino intends to run for a fifth term. Yoon also faces at least two other challengers — one of whom, his fellow councilor Michael Flaherty, received more votes than Yoon in the last two at-large council elections, and starts with more money and better political organization.

So, can Yoon catch the "change" lightning in a bottle? After discussing that question with city politicos and observers for the past several weeks, the Phoenix has compiled this list of seven things that must happen to make his bid to become Mayor Yoon a reality.

Many are beyond the candidate's control — as with Deval and Barack, Sam's success will depend as much on the moment as the man.

1) YOON MUST RAISE THE MONEY Yoon's supporters recognize that their candidate is well behind his two main rivals in the war-chest department, but argue that he can win despite having less campaign funding than his competitors because of the grassroots nature of his appeal. Perhaps, but even his top advisors realize that he can't prevail without the capital to get out his message.

That probably means he'll need at least $1.5 million — half to run the bulk of the campaign, and half for a sustained advertising presence in its final two or three weeks. Menino already has close to that amount banked, and will likely raise at least another million. Michael Flaherty has around $600,000, and a wide base of contributors.

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |   next >
Related: Yoon or Flaherty, Menino's 50-Percent Solution, He's number three, More more >
  Topics: Talking Politics , Deval Patrick, Deval Patrick, Malcolm Gladwell,  More more >
  • Share:
  • Share this entry with Facebook
  • Share this entry with Digg
  • Share this entry with Delicious
  • RSS feed
  • Email this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Today's Event Picks
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   KHAZEI, LIKE A FOX?  |  October 14, 2009
    If there is to be a candidate in the Massachusetts US Senate race who inspires the sort of grassroots, progressive following that propelled Governor Deval Patrick into office three years ago — an insurgent candidacy, if you will — it figures to be idealistic public-service advocate Alan Khazei, co-founder of City Year and founder of Be the Change, Inc.
  •   FINAL FOUR?  |  September 30, 2009
    Some of Boston's savviest political insiders were confident of one thing going into last week's preliminary election: the top four finishers in the at-large City Council race would not be the same quartet to actually win those four seats in November.
  •   CAN FLAHERTY WOO YOON?  |  September 28, 2009
    Michael Flaherty, having earned a spot Tuesday on the November ballot, starts his six-week push to the Boston mayoral final with a big problem. He needs Sam Yoon's voters, and to get them he needs Sam Yoon.
  •   SIX FOR THE SEAT  |  September 16, 2009
    Over the next few months, as candidates for the US Senate travel the state, you're likely to hear them say again and again that nobody can ever truly replace Ted Kennedy. That's the truth. But what does the state want next, after such a legendary, larger-than-life figure?
  •   MENINO'S 50-PERCENT SOLUTION  |  September 11, 2009
    For years, many in Boston (including here at the Phoenix ) have lamented the absence of a vigorous campaign that would force the long-time incumbent to defend his record and discuss the issues.

 See all articles by: DAVID S. BERNSTEIN

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group