Members of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s political inner circle gathered in Dorchester Tuesday to launch a new political push — this time, on behalf Boston’s flagging 2024 Summer Olympics bid.
The invitation to Tuesday’s meeting was sent to a group of people described as “Team Walsh,” political organizers and activists who played key roles in Walsh’s 2013 mayoral victory. The sixty or so people who attended the event at Dorchester’s Florian Hall were urged to treat Boston’s 2024 bid as another political campaign, in which grassroots organizing would play a crucial role.
“We’ll be able to go the Little League fields,” said Chris Keohan, who advised Walsh in the 2013 mayor’s race and is now consulting for Boston 2024. “We’ll be able to go the Pop Warner fields. We’ll be able to go to the ice skating rinks. We’ll be able to talk to kids that actually aspire to be in the Olympics."
“We’re going to organize at Rotary Clubs,” Keohan added. “We’re going to organize at VFWs. We’re going to organize wherever anyone will allow us to speak, because there is nothing secret here. We want to hear the feedback from every community we possibly can, in order to build the best bid.”
The meeting came the same day that Olympic proponents, including Walsh, backed a statewide referendum on the games —perhaps in response to dwindling public support for the bid. And it drove home just how close the connection is between Walsh and Boston 2024, the organization leading the local Olympic push.
In addition to Keohan, the crowd also heard from Joe Rull, who left his job as Walsh’s chief of operations to become Boston 2024’s chief administrative officer. Rull told the crowd of about 60 Walsh loyalists that they’re free to back the games or to oppose them.
“I know there are some folks here that are pro, some folks here that are con and some folks here that are undecided,” Rull said. “If you choose to participate, or not, it’s a small city. We’re all going to continue to work together and organize in the future.”
Walsh was not in attendance. And even though the crowd was packed with his supporters, Walsh’s name went unmentioned in public remarks made by Keohan, Rull, and Rev. Jeffrey Brown, another Olympics supporter.
After those remarks concluded, however, organizers asked the press to head to the exit so that any attendees uncomfortable with media attention could speak freely. Whether Walsh's support for the Olympic bid came up in any of those conversations is unclear.