It was a sharp and withering political attack that is likely to haunt interim Suffolk County DA Kevin Hayden at least until the Sept. 6 Democratic Primary. Following the lead of rival for DA Ricardo Arroyo, eight current elected officials called on Hayden to resign.

The attack sprang from a page 1 Boston Sunday Globe story contending that Hayden had failed to prosecute a white transit police officer who, a year ago, was accused of menacing a Hispanic motorist with a gun.

The political hit — openly and effectively orchestrated by Hayden's opponent, Arroyo — charged that the DA was engaged in a cover-up of questionable police activity.

If that were as far as it went, one might chalk it up to a classic case of Boston political hard ball: someone drops a dime to the Globe, New England's largest paper publishes a blockbuster suggesting that the interim DA (appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker) was playing by old clubhouse rules and turning a blind eye to possible police abuse.

For his part, Hayden says the police-abuse case is still open. He announced Wednesday afternoon that his office is opening grand jury investigation into the incident. But that appears to beg the question, why not earlier? The Transit Police want it prosecuted. The officer in question and his defense lawyer have, according to the Globe, contributed to Hayden's campaign — contributions he promised to return. And another transit officer resigned over the case. In what the Globe termed a "rebuke" to Hayden, the Transit Police Wednesday called for an independent investigation free from DA influence.

What gave Arroyo's charge traction was that it was endorsed by the eight elected office holders — all certified progressives — who, in effect, said that Hayden, a well-respected former prosecutor, and defense attorney, was unfit to serve as DA.

Cementing the slam against Hayden was Mayor Michelle Wu, Boston's progressive doyenne — who may not have called for Hayden to step down, but made it abundantly clear that Arroyo was her pick for DA.

Boston's progressive moment coalesced in 2018 when voters sent former Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley to Congress and elected Rachael Rollins DA. (It was Rollins' elevation to become U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts that created the opportunity for Baker to put Hayden in the DA seat.)

Rollins and Pressley are Black and progressive, and the core of their voters helped power Wu, an Asian-American woman, to the mayoralty — all offices typically held by white men.
Arroyo has clearly tapped into the core of that energy.

Two questions remain: 1) How will voters decide on primary day? 2) Who dropped the dime to the Globe?

This analysis originally appeared in GBH News' Politics newsletter. Want more? Subscribe now!