U.S. VP Biden congratulates wrong man in Boston mayor's race

BOSTON (Reuters) - As he watched the returns in Boston's most competitive mayoral race in two decades on Tuesday night, Marty Walsh's cell phone rang.

"A 202 number popped up, and I picked it up. It was Vice President (Joe) Biden. He went right into it, 'Congratulations, Marty, you son of a gun. You did it!'" Walsh recalled on Thursday. "I said, 'Mr. Vice President, you have the wrong Marty Walsh.'"

Biden had intended to call labor activist and state Senator Marty Walsh, who had just been elected mayor of Boston. Instead he was on the line with the Marty Walsh, president of Gateway Public Solutions, a public affairs consulting firm in Boston.

"He laughed, and he was great about it," said non-Mayor-elect Walsh, who worked in the administration of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and before that for Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

He has been getting calls for the other Marty Walsh for more than a decade, he said, and considers him a friend.

He was so used to the drill that he gave Biden the correct phone number, and the vice president signed off by saying, "Congratulations on not being the mayor," according to Walsh.

This year the longest-serving mayor in the city's history, Thomas Menino, decided not to seek reelection after 20 years in office. Incumbent mayors in Boston are rarely defeated.

Boston's political scene is crowded with Democrats of Irish descent, illustrated by the fact that the losing candidate in Tuesday's race, City Councilor John Connolly, also fit that description.

The consultant Marty Walsh said he was not sure that having a name doppelganger in City Hall would make his life any easier.

"I don't think it's going to help my parking situation at all," he joked.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Douglas Royalty)

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