The long trek back from political gadfly to elected office just might be in the cards for Althea Garrison, a perennial city candidate since she won a quirky election in 1992 to serve one term as a state representative.
In fact, she might have just doubled her chances this week, thanks to the sudden race for Suffolk district attorney.
Garrison got just less than 7 percent of the vote when she ran last year for one of the four Boston at-large council seats. She came in fifth, albeit far behind the fourth-place finisher. But now two at-large city councilors, Ayanna Pressley and Michael Flaherty, both of whom were just sworn in last month for two-year terms, are eyeing other offices.
Under city election rules, if either wins, Garrison, after more than 20 attempts (she says she has lost count) to get back into elected office, will, as the next in line, assume the fourth at-large council seat — and collect the $99,500 salary that goes with it.
Pressley announced three weeks ago she wants to take out a fellow Democrat, US Representative Michael Capuano, in the Sept. 4 primary. And now Michael Flaherty is a potential candidate to replace District Attorney Dan Conley, who stunned the political world this week when he announced he would not seek another term for the office he’s held since 2002.
“I am very determined; I don’t give up that easy,’’ Garrison said when asked this week about her potential political reincarnation after nearly 24 years.
Garrison’s first major appearance in the political world came when she took out papers as a Republican to oppose a Democratic state representative from Dorchester, Nelson Merced, whose electoral expertise seemed seriously lacking. Merced’s nomination papers were flawed, and he never made the ballot, leaving Garrison a wide opening to serve a brief one term in the House.
It was not an altogether pleasant experience. A reporter for the Boston Herald got a hold of her birth certificate showing she was born a male and given the name A.C. That was in the early 1990s, when transgender issues were still in the dark ages and open to public ridicule, which the Herald freely indulged.
Later, she also didn’t endear herself to gay rights advocates when she opposed same-sex marriages. But she still holds the title as the first known transgender person elected to a Legislature.
After her defeat, the Weld administration and other GOP leaders took care of her with a series of low-level bureaucratic jobs. She also ran numerous times for City Council, state representative, and even mayor — sometimes as a Democrat, and others as a Republican — but never coming close to success.
But this year, she could potentially — although highly unlikely given her electoral past — hit the office jackpot this year. She also is currently running for the state Senate seat vacated by Linda Dorcena Forry.Frank Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.