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Walsh, Connolly finalists in race for mayor

Yawu Miller | 9/25/2013, 8:45 a.m. | Updated on 9/25/2013, 8:45 a.m.
Two Irishmen were left standing in the primary race. Walsh and Connolly emerge as victors, to enter six-week sprint to ...
John Connolly wins the primary to enter the last leg of the race for Mayor of Boston. Photo Courtesy of Connolly campaign

When the smoke cleared in the 12-way shootout for the top two slots in the 2013 campaign for the next mayor of Boston, two Irishmen were left standing -- state Rep. Martin J. Walsh with 20,838 votes and at-large City Councilor John Connolly with 19,420.

Former state Rep. and Department of Neighborhood Development Director Charlotte Golar Richie trailed with 15,536 votes, more than 4,000 votes behind Connolly.

As the results trickled in on large screen monitors, Walsh supporters filled a large function at Venezia Waterfront Restaurant in the Neponset section of Dorchester crowded into a large function room chanting “Marty, Marty, Marty.”

In his victory remarks, Walsh displayed his tone for the final six weeks of the election, preaching inclusion and opportunity for Boston’s middle- and working-class residents.

“This is a race about who we are, about values,” Walsh said. “About whether Boston will be a city for all its people in all its neighborhoods, not just some.”

Before entering the race for mayor, Walsh was business manager for the Boston Building Trades. He topped the mayoral ticket with what many observers say was a fierce ground game that deployed scores of volunteer canvassers across the city.

A social justice theme ran throughout his remarks.

“Boston has a triple-A bond rating, yet one in three students doesn’t graduate high school,” he said. “We continue to lose young people to senseless violence. We have to do better than that.”

Connolly, a Harvard College graduate, repeated his campaign-trail pledge to be the city’s “education mayor.”

“I have never been so happy to be in second place in my life,” he said, speaking to supporters at his election day party at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Sq. “I would be incredibly proud to be your education mayor. But our campaign is defined by an even bigger issue -- an idea that says this city never stands as tall as when we stand together.”

Connolly touted the diversity of his campaign staff, as did Walsh. But black, Latino and Asian votes in the preliminary were split mainly between the campaigns of Golar Richie, who garnered 15,536 votes, at-large City Councilor Felix G. Arroyo who garnered 9,888 and former Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative executive director John Barros who garnered 9,138.

Together, the votes won by candidates of color dwarfed those of any single white candidate, but like all communities in this 12-way mayoral race, communities of color were divided.

The relatively strong turnout in black, Latino and Asian neighborhoods will give those communities a central role in the campaigns of Walsh and Connolly, says political commentator Kelly Bates.

“The black community is going to be pivotal,” she said. “To win, the candidates need to be speaking to our issues.

Bates said Walsh and Connolly should waste no time in seeking support from Golar Richie, Arroyo and Barros.

“Immediately, they need to reach out to all the candidates of color and their staff, get key endorsements and reach out to anyone in the community who can turn people out. You have only six weeks to win this.”

Standing in the crowd at Venezia restaurant, Roxbury resident Stephanie Soriano Mills said she’s already made up her mind who she’s supporting.

“I’ve known Marty for a long time,” she said. “Marty is a people’s candidate. He’s the same person whether he’s talking to the person cleaning a building or the building’s owner. He’s the people’s candidate.”