Polls opened at 7 a.m. in the race to replace Mayor Thomas Menino, who opted against attempting a sixth campaign for the top job in City Hall. The two finalists, Dorchester state Rep. Marty Walsh and City Councillor At-Large John Connolly of West Roxbury, plan to sprint across the city in last-minute jockeying before polls close at 8 p.m.
Walsh will hit JP Licks in the afternoon with state Rep. Liz Malia and City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo. Connolly will visit various polling locations after voting with his family at St. George’s Orthodox Church. Menino, who has stayed neutral in the race, was scheduled to vote at the Roosevelt School at 9 a.m.; it was the only item on his public schedule.
Recent public polling has indicated the race is a toss-up, with momentum behind Walsh, who has served as a Dorchester lawmaker since 1997. Six weeks after Walsh topped the preliminary ticket, the lawmaker has closed a gap that showed up in earlier polling, and in some polling, has passed Connolly.
Connolly, a three-term city councillor who first jumped into the race in February, before Menino made his decision, is now playing the role of underdog. His closing argument in the last days of the campaign has pivoted from a focus on education to “moms versus the machine,” a reference to Walsh’s union support and outside groups that are supporting the longtime labor leader. “Marty Walsh is a good man and he wants to do good things for Boston,” Connolly, who has benefited from a smaller amount of outside spending by education reform groups, said at a Sunday afternoon rally outside the Trotter School in Dorchester. “But Marty is too beholden to a narrow set of interests to be able to make the changes that Boston needs. And this ultimately comes down to a decision on Tuesday that is becoming increasingly clear: will this race be decided by the residents of Boston or will it be decided by close to 3 million dollars in outside money?”
But Walsh has also picked up the support of several former rivals, including former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie, who came in third place in the Sept. 24 preliminary, City Councillor At-Large Arroyo, and former School Committee member John Barros. His Election Eve rally, held at the Strand Theatre in Uphams Corner, was filled with elected officials, neighborhood supporters and union members.
“This has been an incredible run,” Walsh said, standing with his former rivals and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, District 7 Councillor Tito Jackson and others. “You know, I’ve enjoyed every single day of it. I’ve got about 24 hours left of it. I’ve got about 24 hours left to enjoy being a candidate. Because 24 hours from now, with your help and the people on this stage, I’m not going to be a candidate, we are going to be elected mayor of the city of Boston.”
As of 9 a.m., turnout was at 26,125 voters, according to unofficial numbers put out by the city's elections department.
After polls close on Tuesday night, Walsh will be at the Park Plaza Hotel. Connolly plans to be several streets away, at the Westin Copley.
Results will be available on the city’s website: cityofboston.gov/elections after 8 p.m.