Politicians banter and banter at Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast
There was a place to pass Much smaller than the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, where the event has been held in recent years. The servers maneuvered around the crowd The participants were dressed festively with bright emeralds, shamrock prints and green bouquets. Senate President Karen Spilka had a lime-green streak in her hair.
They joined members of the state’s congressional delegation. The Legislature and other notables gathered on stage, including Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Attorney General Andrea Campbell, Auditor Diana DiZoglio, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden and members of the Boston City Council.
In her first appearance as governor, Maura Healy opened the breakfast by joking about the greeting written in Logan. International Airport, a hiring crisis at the struggling MBTA.
“What I really wanted to say was: Welcome to Logan Airport. Do you want to run T?’ said the governor, who has yet to hire a general manager for the embattled MBTA.
He also asked, “What does a lieutenant governor do?” He joked about the question.
“Honestly, I’m surprised,” he said, calling Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll to the microphone.
Healy and Driscoll held up two cans full of dollar bills and joked that they would have to pay if the speakers mentioned the T or basketball. The two, who were college basketball players, emphasized basketball heavily in television commercials, fundraising emails and campaign events during the gubernatorial election.
Speakers cracked jokes about Wu’s controversial North End outdoor dining rules, crumbling MBTA infrastructure and the royal family visiting Boston last year.
Spilka said he did not follow the royal family, but “they gave the Senate a great idea — There are no term limits for the President of the Senate,” referring to his chamber’s vote to extend his term indefinitely.
DiZoglio, a former senator himself, sang “Walking in the Sunshine” for Spilka. He recently released an audit of the legislature, calling it a “closed-door operation” that operates mostly in the shadows.
“We walk in the sunshine,” he sang. “People want sunshine.”
They also joked about the past election cycle, when some races were relatively heated.
In Campbell’s speech, he roasted Wu, a former colleague on the Boston City Council who has endorsed his Democratic opponent, Shannon Liss-Riordan, a largely self-funded labor attorney.
“If you know one thing about Michelle, it’s that she likes free stuff. Between the free rides and the rent control grants, he worries about the cost of things,” Campbell said. “That’s why we’re so confused as to why he’s supporting a self-funded billionaire candidate for AG. I’m still trying to figure it out.”
Wu laughed, as did U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who also endorsed Liss-Riordan for attorney general.
As noted by several dignitaries, the city’s politics have changed significantly since the last time power brokers gathered for the event.
Five of the six constitutional officers are now women, and at the breakfast there were more women than men on stage, as noted in a few remarks.
Still, sexism persists, Wu joked in his speech.
“For men, it’s an annual opportunity to tell a few bad jokes that nobody remembers,” he said. “For women, it’s our chance to tell some bad jokes that are completely taken out of context.”
In 2022, Healey was still one of the few candidates for governor, and Wu was recently elected mayor. Republican Charlie Baker was still in the corner office, and his decision not to seek a third term has become a joke.
At that breakfast, Spilka gave Baker a large inflatable duck: a “lame duck.”
Baker, as well as former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who recently stepped down as labor secretary of the NHL Players Association, have taken a lot of flak for their new roles.
Neither Walsh nor Baker, who now presides as NCAA president, attended this year’s breakfast.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley joked last year that she learned a lot, including that “the best way to be a popular politician in Massachusetts is to stop being a politician and run a major national sports organization.”
Spilka also joked about Baker’s lucrative new role.
“I think that’s why he didn’t support the millionaires’ tax,” he said.
On Sunday, the general table of Democrats did not spare the Republicans.
Wu joked that if St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated to drive snakes out of Ireland and Evacuation Day is to drive the British out of America, Sunday should be declared “Jim Lyons Day,” named after the state’s recently ousted Republican Party chairman.
“I nominate Jim Lyons Day for his unparalleled contribution to driving all Republicans out of the State House,” he joked.
Spilka visited Lyons, who he speculated was “preparing for his new job doing numbers at Walpole,” referring to the state prison.
After the incident, Healy said that although the “jokes were terrible”, he enjoyed his first breakfast in the lead role.
“I’m sure there will be plenty of fodder next year.”
Samantha J. Gross can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @samanthajgross.