The vast majority of Boston and statewide elected officials and all 10 gubernatorial candidates do not plan to march in South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Sunday, a sign of the diminished political draw of an event that in decades past was a not-to-be-missed affair for local politicos.
More than 45 city councilors, state legislators who represent Boston, statewide elected officials, US representatives and senators, and gubernatorial hopefuls are set to miss the event Sunday, said the politicians or their aides.
Most have never participated in the parade, according to conversations with those politicians or their aides.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who marched as recently as last year, will not join the parade Sunday unless there is a resolution to the impasse between parade organizers and gay rights activists who want gay veterans to be able to march openly. If he chooses not to march, Walsh would follow the precedent set by Thomas M. Menino, his predecessor.
Of the dozens of politicians the Globe reached directly or through their staff Wednesday, only state Representative Nick Collins, a South Boston Democrat, plans to march in his neighborhood’s parade Sunday, according to two of his aides.
It is a marked shift from decades ago when the then less-controversial parade drew some of the city’s most powerful politicians, who hit the streets of South Boston directly from the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, arguably the state’s marquee annual political event, longtime Boston political observers said.
“When I was in politics, I would not have considered for a moment not marching,” said Larry DiCara, who was a Boston city councilor from 1972 to 1981. “It was a must-show appearance. This is a dramatic change in 30 years, more or less, and it just shows how the city is a very different place.”
Most councilors marched every year, as did many statewide elected officials, DiCara said.
Ten current councilors will not attend this year’s parade for various reasons, according to them or their aides. The three other councilors — Stephen J. Murphy, Michael Flaherty, and Frank Baker — did not respond to requests for comment.
More than a dozen state legislators who represent Boston in the State House and who responded to queries from the Globe said they were not marching in the main South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, organized by the Allied War Veterans Council. Many of them said they had never marched in that parade, preferring other holiday events. Some cited the fact that they did not live in South Boston, but others had additional concerns.
“Basically it’s not in my district; I don’t have a huge constituency there,” said state Representative Elizabeth A. Malia, a Jamaica Plain Democrat. “And as an out lesbian representative for many years, I never felt terribly welcome and spent my time doing other things.”
A Collins aide said the representative was not available to comment Wednesday.
Except for US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston Democrat who told a local television station Wednesday that it was not yet decided whether he will march, no one in the state’s congressional delegation — two senators and eight other representatives — plans to march in the parade, their aides said.
Nor have any except Lynch marched in previous years.
“It’s still up in the air,” Lynch told Fox 25 Wednesday morning when asked whether he will march in the parade. “We’re trying to use that as leverage in terms of getting people to sit down and talk to each other.”
None of the 10 candidates — five Democrats, two Republicans, and three independents — running to succeed Governor Deval Patrick plan to march, nor does Patrick, who has never marched in that parade, aides said.
While the parade will not be filled with waving politicians, elected officials will reach critical mass at the earlier breakfast. Many of those who plan to skip hoofing it through the streets of South Boston are set to attend the traditional South Boston morning breakfast, hosted for the first time this year by state Senator Linda Dorcena Forry.
Dorcena Forry, the first woman, Haitian-American, and Dorchester resident to host the breakfast, won a heated special election for her current seat last year.