Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley is expected to announce his candidacy for mayor Wednesday, say two individuals close to the campaign, making him the best-funded official to enter the race to succeed five-term incumbent Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
The field to replace the veteran mayor is beginning to take shape as potential candidates weighed their prospects in the first wide-open mayoral contest in a generation.
One candidate locked himself in a room over the weekend and called supporters for 10 straight hours. Another hopeful spent his Easter Sunday dinner parsing his potential mayoral run with family.
State Representative Martin J. Walsh said Tuesday he will definitely run. Boston city councilor Felix G. Arroyo secured the blessing of his family and sent a letter to supporters saying he is “seriously considering” a campaign.
Others poised to jump into the race include city councilors Michael P. Ross (“very closely and seriously considering it”), Rob Consalvo (“strongly considering”), and Tito Jackson (“still strongly considering”).
“This has become the wild West very quickly,” said Councilor at Large John R. Connolly, who launched his mayoral bid in February before Menino bowed out. “That’s a good thing for Boston, because we’ll have a thorough debate and candidates who can speak to a number of different visions for Boston.”
The field of potential candidates, which has swelled to more than a dozen, has a striking lack of women, although the names of Councilor at Large Ayanna Pressley and state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz have been discussed in political circles. Neither woman would publicly comment Tuesday about potentially running for mayor.
There is also no candidate from the business community, although James E. Rooney, executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, has been making calls to gauge support, said several people. Rooney did not return a message Tuesday seeking comment.
The next tier on the decision-making scale includes City Council President Stephen J. Murphy (“thinking about it”) and state Representative Jeffrey Sanchez (“considering it”).
Councilor Charles C. Yancey said Tuesday he has been looking at running for mayor for the last year and a half.
“I don’t have an announcement either way right now,” he said.
Michael F. Flaherty Jr., a former city councilor who challenged Menino in 2009 and lost, said he is assessing the field and could run again for mayor or City Council.
State and county elected officials can launch mayoral bids with little risk: They do not have to give up their day jobs to run. The seven members of the Boston City Council thinking about asking voters for a promotion are not so lucky: They must relinquish their seats to run for mayor.
Candidates can begin on April 17 to apply for nomination papers, the first step in securing a spot on the ballot. May 13 is the last day to apply. A preliminary election on Sept. 24 will narrow the field to two candidates who will face off Nov. 5.
On Tuesday, news of Conley’s impending announcement capped a fast-moving day.
“He’s going to go for it,” said one person close to the campaign, adding that Conley would issue a press statement and hold a media availability Wednesday, with a formal kickoff coming later.
Conley has more than $866,000 in his account, substantially more than any of the other emerging candidates.
He served on the City Council for eight years before being appointed district attorney in 2002. Conley won the seat outright that November and was reelected in 2006 and 2010.
Walsh, the state representative, confined himself to a room over the weekend to make hundreds of calls to lock up support and add to his campaign account of roughly $176,000. He said he decided months ago that he would run if Menino did not seek reelection, and he planned to formally announce his candidacy “at some point in the near future.”
“It’s a life-changer when you decide to embrace a candidacy for mayor,” Walsh said when asked about the decision process. “The day Tom Menino said he was not running for reelection, a lot of people’s lives changed.”
Arroyo discussed the move with his wife and extended family over an Easter dinner of ham, sweet potatoes, and matzo ball soup. Early Tuesday, he sent a letter to more than 10,000 recipients by e-mail and US mail saying he was prepared to jump into the race and needed to add to his campaign coffers. He said he had a balance of roughly $80,000.
“Your donation will make this campaign a reality,” Arroyo said in the letter, adding, “I am a son of Boston. I love our city. Together, we will move Boston forward.”
Consalvo, a district city councilor from Hyde Park, said running for mayor dominated talk at his house this weekend, even when he was dyeing Easter eggs with his children.
With the support of his family, Consalvo began reaching out to supporters in his district and across the city. He has roughly $80,000 in his campaign account. “I did let the mayor know I’m considering a run,” said Consalvo. “He just wished me well. Once I connected with him, I put on the full-court press.”
Ross, a city councilor from Mission Hill, has roughly $225,000 in his campaign account and said he has been discussing the move with friends, neighbors, and a cross-section of the city.
As council president, Murphy would be in line to become acting mayor if Menino leaves early. Murphy said he spoke to the mayor Saturday, and the mayor told him he planned to finish his term. Murphy, who has $90,000 in his campaign account, is also weighing his third run for state treasurer, but said Tuesday a campaign for mayor has also crossed his mind.
“It’s a serious decision that requires some thought,” said Murphy. “These positions don’t come up all the time.”
Sanchez, the state representative from Jamaica Plain, said he had the conversation Easter Sunday with his family over “pernil asado” (roast pork) and “arroz con gandules” (rice with pigeon peas).
Sanchez had roughly $22,000 in his campaign account at the end of 2012.
“There’s a lot of soul searching with the people you love the most,” Sanchez said. “This is a big step. Tom Menino defined what a mayor is. It’s an enormous responsibility. It’s not all about ribbon cuttings.”
Andrew Ryan can be reached at email@example.com.