Mark this down: Tom Menino, already the longest-serving mayor in Boston history, will run for re-election in 2013.
It's not just me saying it — although I expect full credit if the prediction proves correct. In and around City Hall, people are increasingly of the same opinion.
That's a sea chang, and it's taken place just in the past couple of months. Prior to that, and ever since his 2009 victory over Michael Flaherty, the common wisdom was that this would be Menino's last lap. The 2009 campaign, it was thought, took a heavy toll on him — as evidenced by his string of subsequent physical ailments — and he and his wife Angela would not be eager to go through that again.
But in recent weeks, the old Menino has returned. He has been seen at events all over the city, including his own well-attended "community breakfasts," as well as anywhere more than a couple dozen citizens gather. As he has recovered from three surgeries (for torn tendons in both legs, and for an arm infection), he has been able to step up his exercise and physical therapy, which is helping trim down the weight he gained while being laid up.
He has also asked well-connected city bigwigs to start holding fundraisers for him.
"If you asked me a month ago, I didn't think he wanted to," says one City Hall insider. "Now I agree — he's probably running again."
In a variety of ways, Menino is sending signals that he is far from finished. And that has more and more people saying that the man they jokingly call mayor-for-life is running again.
Apparently, even Menino is saying it. According to people who were at Menino's East Boston community breakfast this month, the mayor said flat out that he'll run again for re-election.
Of course, all of this might be posturing. The last thing Menino wants is to be viewed as a lame duck (no reference to his bad knees intended), winding down his final days in office. That would weaken him politically, as people stop worrying about what Menino might do for them (or to them) in the future — and start worrying instead about cozying up to the next boss.
Menino could not have been happy that so many were taking his hospitalizations and home rest to indicate advancing age and waning power. City observers say that the signs pointing toward another campaign could just as easily be intended to combat that perception. "He definitely wants everybody to believe he's running again," says one local pol. "I think it may be a ruse."
And some say that what seems like a change is really just Menino picking up his usual routine, now that he is sufficiently on the mend to be in City Hall daily and making rounds throughout the city.
"I think there was a frustration at the inability to do the things he's always done," says another City Hall insider — who adds that, while ramping back up to his usual pace may not have been intended as a rebuttal to the dead-mayor-walking whisper campaign, it was certainly an understood by-product.