Incumbent Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and City Council President Michael Flaherty appear headed for a showdown in the Nov. 3 election.
With 100 percent of the city's precincts reporting, unofficial returns show Menino receiving 50.5 percent of the vote. Flaherty finished second with 24 percent (full results).
City Councilor Sam Yoon finished third and out of the running, with South End businessman Kevin McCrea a distant fourth.
Voter turnout exceeded expectations, at slightly more than 23 percent. That's brisk compared to previous municipal elections.
At Menino's campaign party Tuesday night, at an IBEW union hall in Dorchester, supporters chanted "four more years." Menino, the city's longest-serving mayor, is seeking an unprecedented fifth consecutive four-year term.
Menino urged campaign workers to hit the streets again Wednesday, and he emphasized there are 42 days before the general election. "Freshen those yard signs up, knock on those doors, flex those tweeting fingers," he said to laughter.
Flaherty, the second-place finisher, focused on rallying the troops during his victory address.
The Flaherty campaign credits the victory with a strong get-out-the-vote effort, having dispatched 600 campaign workers in the field Tuesday.
Yoon, now eliminated from the running, said he is proud of the way he ran his campaign.
"There is nothing I regret about doing this, and there is nothing that you should regret one iota abut what you have done for this city through this campaign to make change," he told suppoters in an emotional speech.
Yoon told WBUR he has not yet decided whether to support Flaherty's campaign.
Turnout in the city was higher than expected, far exceeding the 41,000 votes cast in the last preliminary election in Boston in 2005.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This program aired on September 22, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.