The frenetic race to fill Boston’s first open mayor’s seat in a generation came to an immediate halt last week when two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring more than 275.
Candidates stopped campaigning. They ceased fund-raising. They abandoned efforts to woo political activists. As the region buries its dead and lurches toward normalcy, most of the nascent campaigns have remained silent.
That stood in stark contrast to the days after Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced he would not seek reelection to a sixth term, when the race seemed to change by the hour.
The bombings “simply froze things in place,” said Paul Watanabe, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “The calculation now is who is the first one to thaw in this race and step back into it. To be the first one may be too fast.”
Councilor Rob Consalvo postponed his campaign kickoff, scheduled for Thursday, because he said he felt it was still too soon. The event has been pushed to May 16.
“Now is not the time to be hosting celebrations,” Consalvo said Monday. “Campaigning and politics take a back seat.”
The pause in campaigning may not have much of an impact on candidates from the political class, who already have money in their campaign accounts and a stable of volunteers and political organizers from past elections. But for the community organizers, executives, and other candidates who are learning how to set up fund-raising accounts and building their campaign teams, it could stop momentum.
“The suspended animation of the past week indirectly hinders the campaigns of insurgents,” said Lawrence S. DiCara, a former city councilor who has written a forthcoming book on Boston politics. “Therefore, it helps the campaign of established candidates.”
Many of the major candidates have not even gone to the Election Department at City Hall to apply for nomination papers, the first step in getting on the ballot for the Sept. 24 preliminary election. That includes Consalvo and Councilors Felix G. Arroyo and John R. Connolly; state Representative Martin J. Walsh; and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.
Those who have applied for nomination papers include Lee Buckley, Charles L. Clemons Jr., William J. Dorcena, Althea Garrison, John G.C. Laing Jr., Divo Rodrigues Monteiro, David S. Portnoy, Councilor Michael P. Ross, Gareth R. Saunders, Bill Walczak, Hassan A. Williams, Christopher G. Womack, David James Wyatt, and Councilor Charles C. Yancey.
At least two other candidates may still jump into the race. John F. Barros, executive director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, has said he is seriously considering a run. So has Charlotte Golar Richie, a former state representative from Dorchester who later served in the administrations of Menino and Governor Deval Patrick. Neither Barros nor Golar Richie returned phone calls Monday seeking comment.
Campaigns must collect the signatures of 3,000 registered voters to appear on the ballot. Signature papers will begin to be available April 30. Candidates have until May 13 to apply. A final election between the two top voter-getters is scheduled Nov. 5.
One potential mayoral candidate — Councilor Ayanna Pressley — confirmed Monday that she will not join the race. Pressley said she will run for reelection as an at-large city councilor and continue to advocate for women and girls and for policies to curb poverty and violence.
She did not rule out a future run for higher office, but said now was not the time.
“After much contemplation and prayer and counsel from family and friends, I’ve decided that this is not the race for me,” Pressley said in an interview.
The Marathon bombings have provided voters an early litmus test for candidates as voters try to imagine a city run by someone other than Menino, who has been mayor since 1993.
“It might give people pause to look at the field and think about how their candidate might react to this type of a crisis,” said Michael J. McCormack, a former Boston city councilor.
But the real scrutiny will come after the special election for US Senate, when voters and news organizations will begin to scrutinize the people running for mayor.
“We’ll look hard at these folks, and we’ll see who can get up on their feet and make a serious run for mayor,” said McCormack.
“Some of them just won’t be able to make it.”