Walsh cruises to decisive victory in preliminary election

Mayor Martin J. Walsh celebrated his decisive first-round election victory with supporters at Dorchester's IBEW Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 26. Chris Lovett photo

Mayor garners 62 percent, Jackson 29; turnout is low

Incumbent Boston Mayor Martin Walsh scored a landslide, first-round victory in Tuesday’s preliminary election, overwhelming his chief challenger, City Councillor Tito Jackson, by taking 62 percent of the overall vote in a four-person field. Walsh and Jackson, who earned 29 percent of the vote, will advance to the Nov. 7 final election.

The mayor and his team were hoping to score a knockout victory in this first-round by running up the score against Jackson in what amounted to a head-to-head contest. By surpassing a 60 percent majority— and improving on pre-election poll margins—they appear to have done just that. Walsh won 212 out of 255 precincts, including two-thirds of those that are predominantly neighborhoods of people of color. Two other men whose names were on the ballot, Robert Cappucci and James Wiley, barely factored in the results.

The effect of the 33-point election triumph for Walsh was clouded by the electorate’s dismal turnout. Only 14.4 percent of registered voters made it to the polls, — a pathetic showing for a contested mayor’s race.

Walsh’s margin of victory in Dorchester was 68.5 percent, based on unofficial returns posted by the city’s Election Department. He piled on lopsided totals in his home neighborhood base. In Savin Hill, for example, he notched 397 votes (78 percent) to Jackson's 71 in the bellwether 13-10 polling station. He also won handily in his new home turf in Lower Mills, walking off with 333 votes to Jackson's 142 in the Ward 17 double precinct at Lower Mills library. In Neponset, Walsh won 92 percent of the votes cast in Florian Hall’s high-turnout 16-12 precinct.

The mayor’s strong performance was not confined to his former state rep’s district in seaside Dorchester where Jackson managed to win just four precincts – three in Ward 14 along the Blue Hill Avenue corridor and one in Ward 17 at the Henderson School on Codman Hill. Walsh won every precinct in Wards 13, 15 and 16.

Walsh also prevailed in Mattapan, besting Jackson in bellwethers like the Mattahunt School, Mildred Ave. Community Center, Groveland Senior Center, and Chittick School. Walsh’s team was quick to point out that he managed to defeat Jackson in his own council district, topped the councillor by 187 votes in District 7.

In front of a crowd packed inside the IBEW Hall on Freeport Street, Walsh congratulated Jackson on advancing and added: “I look forward to six weeks of positive conversation in all the neighborhoods of Boston.”

The mayor credited the 33-point margin of victory to his campaign team – “more than 2,000 volunteers. You are the backbone of our campaign. You came from every single neighborhood. You made over 700,000 phone calls. You knocked on 65,000 doors. You went to 750 different events, rallies, and parades. You are what this campaign is all about: people who love our city, care about their neighborhoods, and fight to make a difference.”

He added, “We know there’s a lot more work to do. The truth is, we’re just getting started. We built the foundation, now we’re ready to soar. We won’t stop until every student and every worker in every family and every neighborhood is a full partner in our city’s success.”

Roughly two dozen Jackson's supporters waited for their candidate at the Harborside Hotel bar in downtown Boston after the polls had closed. He walked into the room with his mother and campaign staff to applause.

"We will stand for election to become the 55th mayor of the city of Boston. We are in the finals, and this is not about any individual. This is about the whole city of Boston," Jackson said.

He and his team seemed unfazed by Walsh’s dominant victory. "I think that the disappointment is simply that we want voter turnout,” Jackson told the Reporter. “Actually, I'm ecstatic that I will get an opportunity to stand in the next election to become the next mayor of the city of Boston. Of course we have work to do across the city of Boston, but the issues are resonating. And by the way, interestingly, Mayor Walsh has changed his opinion on a bunch of things," Jackson said, adding, "I'm not disappointed.”

Jackson's campaign manager, TaShonda Vincent-Lee, said the outcome and turnout were “not surprising,” adding “what we understood was that a lot of voters were just not aware that there was an election.”

Janey first in District 7

In the race to succeed Jackson as the District 7 city councilor, Kim Janey finished in first place with 24 percent of the vote with Rufus Faulk earning the challenger’s spot in the November run-off with 11 percent. There were 13 candidates on the ballot in District 7, which includes Roxbury and parts of Dorchester.

Ed Flynn was a dominating winner in the preliminary contest in District 2 (South Boston, Chinatown, South End). The son of former Mayor Ray Flynn was expected to be at about 50 percent when the final tally is posted. Mike Kelley, at 28 percent, will face Flynn in the November final.

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