With all the signs in recent weeks, it was only a matter of time before Mayor Martin J. Walsh would officially endorse City Councilor Josh Zakim in his upstart race for secretary of state.
So, why not do it over a late breakfast/early lunch at McKenna’s Café, one of Walsh’s regular eating spots in his beloved neighborhood of Savin Hill — you know, to talk about voting rights, the 2020 Census count, and energizing the electorate?
“I love McKenna’s, so it’s always a good place to be,” Walsh said Tuesday, just after a plate of sausage and eggs, home fries, a cup of Barry’s Irish tea, and what he called a frank conversation with Zakim on everything from his race to the city budget process.
A week after Zakim scored an upset win of the state Democratic endorsement at the party’s convention over incumbent Secretary of State William Galvin — after Walsh had telegraphed to delegates that he would be supporting the councilor — Walsh made the endorsement official Tuesday, saying he was impressed with Zakim’s work as a councilor and his ability to excite an electorate that has become jaded over elections.
“I’ve watched this guy, this councilor, over the last four years . . . push for people’s rights, and push for voting rights . . . getting young people engaged,” the mayor told reporters outside the restaurant. “That’s what we need right now; we need a secretary of state who will energize the millennials, energize the people who are not satisfied with the process right now.”
Walsh said his support of Zakim was not meant as criticism of Galvin, and he said the endorsement had no relation to Galvin’s attempted obstruction last year of the Millennium Partners tower development at Winthrop Square that the city had backed. Walsh pointed out that Zakim, as a councilor, had also opposed the project.
Instead, Walsh said, he was embracing Zakim’s attempts to energize an office that will handle critical matters affecting the state, including voting rights and the upcoming Census count.
“We need to get the energy back in the secretary of state’s office because it has such a big impact on the future of Massachusetts,” the mayor said. “What we’re looking for is ideas moving us forward.”
Walsh added, “What I’m saying is, on Election Day, I’m voting for Zakim.”
Zakim said he was “excited” by the mayor’s support. “We’ve had a lot of good experiences working together over the last 4½ years,” he said.
And he said he will continue to his push to expand voter access in Massachusetts, including same-day voter registration or automatic voter registration.
“It’s just simple, common sense reforms that improve democracy, that bring people into the process,” said Zakim, who said it wasn’t his first time at McKenna’s, though he was glad to be back.
He had a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich, and a Diet Pepsi.Milton J. Valencia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.