Boston gets first 'real' mayor's race in 20 years (+video)
State Rep. Martin Walsh and City Councilor John Connolly took the top spots in Tuesday night's preliminary round for the Boston's mayor's race. The current mayor, Thomas Menino, is stepping down after two decades.
The two candidates emerging from Boston’s preliminary mayoral election on Tuesday now face the task of bolstering their support before the final election Nov. 5.Skip to next paragraph
Katherine Jacobsen writes for the Monitor's international desk.
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State Rep. Martin Walsh came in first Tuesday with 18.5 percent of the vote, while City Councilor John Connolly came in a close second with 17.2 percent. The two finalists beat out 10 other candidates.
The key now is for the candidates to differentiate themselves and win over the voters they didn’t get the first time around, says Erin O’Brien, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. (Professor O’Brien has done policy work for Mr. Walsh, though was not a member of his political team.)
The November election will be the first "open" one for Boston mayor in two decades. Boston does not impose term limits on mayors, and incumbents are rarely defeated.
“This election is a new start button. We haven’t done this in 20 years, and the city has changed dramatically in terms of demography,” O’Brien says.
Mayor Thomas Menino shook up the city’s political scene in March when he announced that he would not seek a sixth term as mayor.
“What makes this election so big and so important is that after two decades of Mayor Thomas Menino, his trusted leadership, we are stepping into a new era,” Walsh told supporters late Tuesday night, according to an Associated Press report. “We recognize the next 20 years will be different from the last – new problems, new opportunities, and new challenges.”
Walsh’s campaign gained a large amount of momentum from the labor community. The candidate comes from a family of union members, and Walsh served as a labor official before he was elected to the Massachusetts House in 1997. During his campaign, Walsh has also mentioned his battle with cancer as a young child and his struggles with alcoholism as a young adult.
By Sept. 15, almost $2 million had been spent on behalf of Walsh – a figure that exceeded what any other candidate had spent, according to The Boston Globe. The $2 million included $1.3 million from Walsh’s campaign, which received $385,000 in direct contributions from labor unions and political committees. Firefighters unions alone contributed $46,500, and outside groups that are associated with organized labor spent an additional $700,000.