BOSTON — Supporters of both Boston mayoral candidates will be out in force Tuesday working to get their voters to the polls. As the candidates made some of their final pitches Monday night, they presented a stark contrast.
City Councilor John Connolly’s campaign had an underdog feel. He said he spent much of the first four weeks of the general election just raising money to match the funds being spent by unions on behalf of state Rep. Marty Walsh.
Still, Connolly expressed confidence as night fell on Blue Hill Avenue.
“I’m doing great,” Connolly said. “I feel like we’ve got a lot of momentum. I feel like there’s something going on out there, and I feel great about it.”
Connolly said that in order for him to win Tuesday, turnout must be high.
“I think the turnout’s going up from where it was in the preliminary and I think that that will benefit us,” Connolly said.
Connolly went out with a small group of African-American ministers to knock on doors in Grove Hall. In front of the Mother Caroline Academy, a charter school, Connolly spoke to Raymonde Alcindor, who was picking up her daughter. She said she decided to support Connolly the night of the preliminary election.
“The day that he was in second place that day, and I heard his speech about education, and that’s when I made my decision,” Alcindor said.
For the next 90 minutes, Connolly walked the neighborhood knocking on doors — most of them those of his supporters — to make sure they would turn out Tuesday.
“I will continue to vote for you, you know,” Stanford Davis told Connolly. “I hope that you can do it this time.”
“We’re going to do it,” Connolly promised. “We’re going to win tomorrow.”
Davis said Connolly won him over in the debates.
“When I heard about education, because that is so important, you know,” Davis said.
Walsh has also campaigned in Grove Hall, but Monday night, there could not have been a greater contrast between the people among whom the candidates found themselves. The African-American and Caribbean-American families Connolly engaged at their front doors seemed a world away from the Strand Theatre, where hundreds of people — mostly white men, many union members — gathered to hear Walsh.
Connolly says he has 1,000 volunteers. Monday night, in the Strand alone, Walsh had 800 singing “Sweet Caroline.”
Walsh was head of the Boston Building Trades. Like his father, he was a laborer. He was introduced Monday night by the president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Terry O’Sullivan, who defended Walsh’s union roots.
“Some people have tried to use that against him, saying that because he’s a proud trade unionist, that he can’t be independent,” O’Sullivan said. “But we know, the voters know, and everyone knows that that’s a bunch of BS, brothers and sisters.”
Walsh has put forth a broad agenda. Monday night, he promised to improve Boston’s parks.
“We’re going to make sure that young kids that play softball and little league and football play on a good field,” Walsh promised. “We’re also going to make sure that our seniors that want to walk in those parks are able to walk in those parks, and our artists that are out there tonight, we’re going to make sure that you, if you want to show your public art in our parks, we’re going to make it happen.”
On stage Monday night, Walsh was surrounded by his former rivals — John Barros, Felix Arroyo and Charlotte Golar Richie. Each of them represents a constituency Walsh hopes will come his way Tuesday.
“This has been an incredible run,” Walsh said. “I’ve enjoyed every single day. I’ve about 24 hours left of it. I have 24 hours to enjoy being a candidate.”
“History!” a man in the audience shouted.
“Because 24 hours from now, with your help and the people on this stage, I’m not going to be a candidate.” Walsh said as the crowd roared. “We are going to be elected mayor of the city of Boston.”
Walsh’s Monday night rally felt more like a victory rally. Connolly’s supporters have Tuesday to upend that notion.