Mayor Thomas M. Menino did not wait long Wednesday to tweak the growing field of city councilors jockeying to succeed him as mayor, taking aim at candidates and potential candidates at his annual budget breakfast in the Eagle Room at City Hall.
Looking at a room filled with almost all of the city’s top officials, Menino talked about his $2.6 billion budget proposal and noted that several city councilors were absent.
“They are out campaigning,’’ Menino quipped, eliciting laughter.
On cue, Councilor Felix G. Arroyo entered the room. Arroyo was the most recent candidate to enter the race, launching his bid for mayor Tuesday.
“I say the candidates aren’t here yet,’’ Menino quips, “and he walks in.’’
Arroyo stopped. “Am I the first candidate to show up?’’ he asked.
Menino cast a glance at Councilor Michael P. Ross, who has said he is strongly considering a run but has yet to announce his candidacy.
“The only declared [candidate]’’ Menino quipped as he looked at Ross. “You never know. I want to be a political consultant this year.’’
Several other declared candidates arrived behind Arroyo, including City Councilors John R. Connolly and Rob Consalvo. After the budget presentation of pie charts and percentages, Ross stood up to leave.
“Michael, are you running to a press conference?’’ Menino asked.
Ross stopped. “I am,’’ he said, smiling as he walked out of the room.
But like most of his past budget breakfasts, Menino saved his best for City Councilor Charles C. Yancey, with whom he has jousted since 1983, when both men were first elected to the City Council.
“Next year, you’ll have somebody else sitting here,’’ Menino said. “Maybe Charles.’’
“Was that an endorsement?’’ asked Yancey, who has said he may run for mayor.
“Of course not,’’ Menino said.
Yancey in recent years has shown up to the breakfast late, which he did again Wednesday. And Yancey has often asked the first question, which he did again. Menino opened the floor as others looked down when Yancey spoke up.
“Charles, of course,’’ Menino said to Yancey, who was seated next to him. “I’ve got my cane. I’ll whack you.’’
Yancey laughed and grabbed Menino’s cane in jest. He thanked the city’s budget staff, and made a reference to a building a new Mattapan high school, which Yancey has been pushing for a decade.
“Thank God,’’ Menino said, “it’s the last time I have to listen to this one.’’