The decision of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to retire from office at the end of the year has created a cloudburst of candidates. A lot of the activity will dry up by May 21, the deadline for submitting signatures of 3,000 registered voters. Still, Boston hasn’t experienced a race for an open mayoral seat in 30 years. It’s an exciting time, made all the more so because no one in town has a firm sense which candidates might survive the scheduled Sept. 24 preliminary election and move on to the final.
It’s tempting to look for clues from 1983, when the late Mayor Kevin White announced he’d had enough, prompting nine candidates to get into the race. But history isn’t likely to be a useful forecasting tool for the 2013 race. The politics, culture, media, and demographics of Boston are different today.