Prelim Fever Grips Hub!

In monetary terms, this year’s Boston mayoral race is a lot like the American League East.

Incumbent Tom Menino is the big-spending Yankees, City Councilor Michael Flaherty is the almost-as-big-spending Red Sox, and everyone else – represented by City Councilor Sam Yoon and real-estate developer Kevin McCrea – is, well, everyone else.

Menino, predictably, leads in both the standings and the betting line. On the advertising front, he’s been running what’s come to be called “the empty-desk ad,” largely because it features Menino’s empty desk and chair plunked down in various Boston locations – from a South Boston school and a West Roxbury park, to the Boston waterfront and a Roslindale affordable housing project.

“These are just a few of the ways,” an announcer intones, “Mayor Menino is moving Boston forward.”

Or moving Boston furniture forward. Too bad for Menino the visual always trumps the verbal, so the empty-desk ad in the end makes him look like an absentee mayor.

In a refreshing change from the last two Boston mayoral races, Menino is actually getting a run for his money, in this case from City Councilor Michael Flaherty.  One of his campaign officials said Flaherty is spending about $200,000 on advertising, mostly to air his TV spot “Courage to Change.”

The commercial starts out with an announcer intoning, “Boston has always been about the courage to change. When things don’t work, we work together to make it better. Michael Flaherty is carrying on that tradition.”

Yes, well, Boston voters will be the judge of that.

Sam Yoon’s ad campaign includes five – count ’em, five – TV spots, although he’s spending the political equivalent of lunch money to air them.

In one spot, Yoon himself intones,”I’m Sam Yoon. There’s too much power concentrated into the mayor’s office. We need more checks and balances in city government.”

Actually, Sam Yoon needs more checks and higher balances in his campaign war chest.

As for Kevin McCrea, he’s running one lonely radio spot that, lamentably, the hardworking staff at Campaign Outsider was unable to obtain by post time.

So back to the AL East analogy:

One of these guys is going to get the Boston mayoral Wild Card slot when Tuesday’s preliminary election narrows the field to two.

But since the general election is a home game, Tom Menino will get last licks.

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