Boston’s mayoral race made national headlines this week when acting Mayor Kim Janey compared mandating proof of vaccination to Jim Crow-era policies and birtherism. Janey has since walked back the comments, but not before candidate Andrea Campbell condemned them as “absolutely ridiculous.”

To break down that incident, as well as several other highlights of the week in Boston politics, The Scrum podcast co-hosts Peter Kadzis, GBH news politics editor, and Adam Reilly, GBH news politics reporter, joined Aaron Schachter today on GBH’s Morning Edition.

“Campbell was very shrewd to jump on that very quickly,” Kadzis said.

However, Reilly pointed out, despite the “inartful” comparison, Janey’s comments were originally focused on encouraging Black residents to get vaccinated, a group that still lags in vaccination rates in the city, at around 45%.

“As she said, ‘let's focus on getting people vaccinated and not on getting them to show their papers.’ And I don't know that that's a political negative for her,” Reilly said.

Kadzis said the comments may not ultimately hurt her campaign. “I don't think it'll make much of a difference for people who were well-disposed towards her,” he said. “For undecided voters, I think that just becomes yet another thing to weigh.”

Also this week, Janey announced a plan to have mental health workers respond to some 911 calls instead of police. Kadzis called it a smart move.

“That's the sweet spot where all the mayoral candidates agree,” Kadzis said, noting that the plan is similar to what candidate John Barros has been campaigning on.

“There's a long history of whoever is running the city, taking great ideas that people on the city council or political opponents have, and making them a reality, and in the process, making them their own,” Reilly said.

“That's what happens when you are mayor of Boston — you get to play with everyone's ideas,” Kadzis added.

"Wu is still, I think to my mind, the front runner, along with acting Mayor Kim Janey."
-Adam Reilly

Annissa Essaibi George also faced unflattering headlines this week when the Boston Globe published reports that she may have violated ethics rules by using her office as City Councilor to benefit her husband’s real estate development business.

Reilly said that the details of the case may be more complicated than appears, but ultimately optics matter for someone in Essaibi George’s position. “The problem, I think, is that if you're in a position where you have potential entanglements, you're an at-large city councilor running for mayor, your husband is a developer, you probably need to keep even more space between yourself and his interests than she did in this case,” he said. “Otherwise, when people start paying attention, it could look a little sketchy.”

The other mayoral candidates — Michelle Wu and John Barros — largely stayed out of the headlines this week. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Wu is still, I think to my mind, the front runner, along with acting Mayor Kim Janey,” Reilly said. “She and Andrea Campbell, it's worth noting, both have more than a million bucks in the bank. The next closest is Annissa Essaibi George, who has two thirds of that. So, Wu is in a decent spot. And Campbell is also poised to make a late push.”