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The connection between an At-Large race and a run-off in Afghanistan

Missing from the group of pols and volunteers who lined Blue Hill Ave. on Sunday afternoon for Ayanna Pressley’s City Council At-Large bid was the big gun who had hoped to be there for the weekend before the Nov. 3 election. But U.S. Sen. John Kerry, Pressley’s ex-boss, had a pretty good reason: Another election 6,600 miles
away.

Due to an emergency call from the State Department, Kerry earlier that day had to step off the local election trail after revving up the crowds for Pressley at Concord Baptist Church in the South End and Morning Star Baptist in Mattapan. A source close to the senator confirmed that it was related to the election in Afghanistan.

Kerry had helped apply intense pressure on President Hamid Karzai to accept a run-off. The challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the run-off on Sunday because he felt a fair election had become impossible.

Before heading back to Washington D.C. on Monday morning, Kerry told
the Reporter that Pressley is a careful listener and relationship-builder. “I’ve seen her at meetings, when we’ve had events with sectors of the community. I’ve watched her skill at interacting with people. She’s a good communicator. She’s very good at sensing needs and responding to them,” said the senator, who cast a ballot in person at City Hall.

Kerry also spent Saturday knocking on doors in West Roxbury with Pressley, who has worked for him as his political director, and local District Councillor John Tobin, who had also endorsed her. Pressley’s campaign had been careful of how to use Kerry, particularly since this is a local election.

Kerry avidly followed the race: he speaks and exchanges text messages with Pressley regularly. At the Blue Hill Ave. standout in Mattapan, Pressley had some back-up: Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral, District 4 Councillor Charles Yancey, and state Reps. Gloria Fox, Willie Mae Allen, and Elizabeth Malia.

“It’s just voter contact, voter contact, voter contact,” Pressley said.

Rep. Fox appeared to give that to her in spades, nearly losing her voice in the process as she hauled Pressley into a barber shop and stopped to hand out campaign literature to MBTA bus drivers.