Not an endorsement

But Gov. Deval Patrick, emerging from a Tuesday night forum with the Caribbean community, certainly had some warm words for City Councillor At-Large Sam Yoon, one of the three candidates challenging Mayor Thomas Menino.

"I think it's great," Patrick told the Reporter when asked about Yoon's candidacy. "I think -- I love the fact that he's jumped in."

After sharing the stage with Yoon at the event, Patrick said: "I respect people who jump into these campaigns. It takes a lot out of people. It requires a lot of discipline and a lot of gut and heart. And he's got it. And I think it's terrific."

Several ties exist between Patrick and Yoon. Yoon, who won his race for a city council seat in 2005, was an early backer of Patrick when he was running in 2006, while Menino was a top supporter of then-Attorney General Tom Reilly. And when Barack Obama ran for president, Yoon and Patrick supported him. Menino pushed for Hillary Clinton, and she won the Massachusetts Democratic primary. The governor’s top adviser – Doug Rubin, who just left his job as chief of staff in the Corner Office to work for Patrick’s re-election campaign – worked for former City Councillor Peggy Davis Mullen’s bid for mayor in 2001.

But Patrick, a Milton resident, told the Reporter he’s staying out of this race. "I'm not going to endorse in a contested primary so don't try to lure me," Patrick said of the four-way mayor’s race. "You know, I've also got a great working relationship with Mayor Menino, and I know there are other candidates as well. And I think the fact that there are so many candidates is a good thing for the city."

Earlier that evening, Patrick fielded friendly questions from the Caribbean audience while Yoon and City Councillor At-Large John Connolly sat behind him on the stage. Other candidates for the four at-large spots who attended the forum included Ego Ezedi, Jean-Claude Sanon and Ayanna Pressley. City Councillor Charles Yancey also attended.

During the forum, Patrick also had some kind words for Ezedi, Sanon and Pressley. "Running is hard work," he said. "Serving is even harder work. I wish you well."