Marty Walsh as Biden chief of staff? For a moment last month, it was seen a possibility

Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh spoke to a member of The New England Council before making a speech to the group in Boston last Friday, Jan. 27.
Gintautas Dumcius photo

For a moment in January, talk of Marty Walsh as the new White House chief of staff was in the air. So was Marty Walsh, with no internet access.

The labor secretary was flying from London to Boston after spending a busy few days in Europe, where he had visited the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, before checking out a job training center in Zurich and apprenticeship programs in Austria. He told the audience at a New England Council event on Friday in Boston that as he was boarding the plane for an eight-hour flight without use of the internet, he had received a text message with a link to a New York Times article reporting that Ron Klain was stepping down as the president’s chief of staff.

In mentioning the names of possible successors to Klain being floated by the White House, the reporter included Walsh’s name along with those of the management consultant Jeff Zients, agriculture chief Tom Vilsack, the political strategist Anita Dunn, and the diplomat Susan Rice.

When he arrived in Boston and opened his phone, Walsh told the crowd, he found that 68 people had texted him about the story. Some had offered congratulations and “a couple of people were looking for jobs,” he quipped.

Walsh told reporters after his remarks to the New England Council’s guests that there had been no formal conversations about him taking the role. “I think it was nice to be mentioned. Obviously, it’s an honor,” he said. “When I read the article, I looked at the list, and said, ‘It’s going to be Jeff,’” Walsh said, referring to Zients, the man who was in charge of the Biden White House’s response to the pandemic.

The secretary said that he and Biden, who persuaded him to leave the mayor’s office in Boston in early 2021 to join his cabinet, talk every couple of weeks. “If we’re on a trip or something you get a chance to sit with him and talk to him about life,” he said. “We talk about the stresses of the job.”

Jim Brett, the head of the New England Council, said he and his neighbors, Dorchester residents like Walsh, were not surprised that Walsh’s name was floated, “because the president feels so close and so comfortable with him.”

But Walsh joked that he is getting some “grief” for his time spent in Boston. While his job comes with plenty of travel across the country, Walsh still frequently returns to his home in Lower Mills, and he remains a presence at award dinners and public events around Boston.

Walsh told the New England Council that whenever he gives a speech, he has to run the location by Biden administration lawyers. One of the lawyers apparently remarked to Walsh’s scheduler about the high number in Walsh’s hometown, and added, “We have to cut down on these Boston speeches.”

Joel Richards nabs District 3 endorsement

The candidate who ran against and lost to District 3 Councillor Frank Baker in 2021 is endorsing the candidate running against the five-term incumbent this year. Stephen McBride, a member of the Jones Hill Community Association, lost to Baker, gaining just 28 percent of the vote to the Savin Hill councillor’s 63 percent.

Boston Public Schools teacher and pastor Joel Richards is making his own run this year, after the City Council’s redrawing of political boundaries placed his residence in Dorchester-based District 3. Baker, while losing large swaths of Neponset, picked up more of South Boston.

“As someone who got to know District 3 intimately by running for this seat in 2021, I know firsthand that Joel is the person made for this moment,” McBride said in a statement. “Even from our first meeting on the campaign trail two years ago, I understood his passion to make Boston better. His desire to bring people together rather than sow division, coupled with his commitment to making Boston a more affordable and equitable place to live assures me that Mr. Richards will be the best City Councilor for District 3 and for Boston.”

Richards said it was an “honor” to receive McBride’s support. “I supported Stephen from day one of his campaign and admired the way he humbly carried his message throughout the campaign. I am looking forward to working with him to continue that vision for a Boston united around our shared experiences and our common interests.”

Baker has not yet formally announced if he’s running for reelection.

Additional candidates could jump in. Latoya Gayle, an advocate focused on early education and childcare issues, told the Reporter that she is considering a run and plans to make a decision in February.

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