The campaign for today's City Council election veered into anonymous mudslinging in its waning moments when challenger John Connolly issued a barrage of unsigned mailings across the city that attacked Councilor Stephen J. Murphy.
Connolly acknowledged over the weekend that he was responsible for two negative fliers that were sent to voters Thursday and Friday. That acknowledgement came after a Boston Herald columnist accused him on Saturday of producing the material.
Yesterday, Murphy contended that the mailings, glossy oversized postcards, are "desperate tactics from a losing candidate."
"He's a documented sneak and a liar," Murphy said yesterday. "He's already come clean after the fact that he was the one putting out the poison-pen letters."
The mailings questioned Murphy's commitment to running for reelection to the City Council because he has a record of seeking other positions. In an interview yesterday, Connolly defended the mailings on legal grounds, saying that state law permits anonymous campaign literature against another candidate.
"In retrospect I should have put my name on it, and I wish I did," he said. He did not explain the change of heart and did not apologize, nor would he accept responsibility for other anti-Murphy mailings that were sent around the city late last week.
In his statement over the weekend, Connolly said he sent the mailings because he felt it was "necessary for the voters to be aware of the facts when making a choice about which candidates are truly committed to working to improve the City of Boston."
Three other anonymous mailings about the race have been sent out in recent days, one attacking Murphy in South Boston and the other two urging voters in West Roxbury to elect a councilor from the neighborhood. No one has accepted responsibility for those.
Nine candidates are vying for four at-large seats in today's election, including the four incumbents: Murphy, Felix Arroyo, Michael Flaherty, and Sam Yoon. The challengers are Connolly, East Boston meat packer William Estrada, University of Massachusetts student Matthew Geary, Horizon Beverage IT associate Martin J. Hogan, and former newspaper deliveryman David James Wyatt.
Three district councilors are fighting to keep their seats in today's election. Maureen Feeney of Dorchester is being challenged by community activist Michael J. Cote. Chuck Turner of Roxbury is facing former Flaherty aide Carlos Henriquez. And Charles Yancey of Mattapan is up against Joseph J. R. Rucker. In Allston-Brighton, longtime city employee Mark S. Ciommo is battling Assistant District Attorney Gregory J. Glennon for the seat being vacated at the end of the year by Jerry McDermott. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Connolly's first anonymous mailing featured a shopping cart filled with boxes labeled with the various jobs Murphy ran for or considered taking and said Murphy has been shopping for a new job. The second featured a postal carrier holding the same boxes.
"On Nov. 6th, tell Steve Murphy that if he doesn't want the job, you'll elect someone who does," the fliers read.
Murphy placed fourth in the last citywide council race in 2005, beating Connolly for an at-large seat by a 1.5 percent margin. He has been on the council since 1997 and has since considered a run for Congress and mounted unsuccessful campaigns for state treasurer and county sheriff.
Since helping Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray secure votes in Boston last year, Murphy has contemplated - and then declined to pursue - several positions in their administration.
Murphy declined to comment about the specifics of his job negotiations but said the jobs were offered to him and not something he went looking for.
"There's a difference between lobbying for a state job and ones being offered," Murphy said. "His stuff is false on that regard."
Donovan Slack can be reached at email@example.com.