Blacks, Latinos split support between John Connolly, Marty Walsh in Boston mayor’s race

Yawu Miller | 10/30/2013, 12:46 p.m.
State Rep. Marty Walsh greets Louis Elisa outside the Reggie Lewis Track before a mayoral debate last week. (Photo courtesy of the Walsh campaign) (Photo courtesy of the Walsh campaign)

“Connolly gave us a broad vision, but was weak on the details,” she says.

Still, White Hammond acknowledges that as the campaign has progressed, the differences between the candidates haven’t become any easier to discern.

“They’ve shifted so much,” she says. “It feels like they’re more and more the same. It comes down to a question of trust.”

For some, Walsh’s longstanding connection to unions stands out as an impediment to trust. Connolly has hammered away at the legislation Walsh filed year-after-year that would have taken away the City Council’s power to reject public employee contracts and given an arbitrator final say.

Others in the black community look askance at Walsh’s leadership in the building trades, which for long have had a reputation for being unwelcoming to black and Latino workers.

On the other hand, Connolly’s call for a return to neighborhood schools raised eyebrows in the black community, where shortages of quality schools and a net deficit of seats has made busing the only option for many black and Latino families.

Both candidates have endeavored to move out of their respective bases — Connolly in the predominantly white wards in West Roxbury, Charlestown and East Boston and Walsh in the predominantly white wards of Dorchester and South Boston.

Both have made similar sets of campaign promises to the black, Latino and Asian voters who inhabit the vast swath of the city that separate their respective bases: a mayoral administration that reflects the diversity of the city at its highest levels, longer school days and increased resources for the city’s schools, support for minority- and woman-owned businesses.

With the candidates locked in a dead heat, in the end the race could hinge on any number of factors — foul weather that favors Walsh’s massive get-out-the-vote machine, a late surge from Connolly’s television advertisements, which have been hitting the airwaves.

Whichever way the race is decided, it appears as though the black community has its bases covered with supporters active in both campaigns. Candidates of color may not have been able to break past the white candidates in the preliminary, but black and Latino voters remain key constituencies in the final stretch.