While the Collins campaign has marketed his endorsement by the Rev. Eugene Rivers, a prominent member of the district’s black leadership, Forry still holds the support of much of the city’s minority leadership.
Meanwhile, Dahill has worked to mobilize a younger set of voters through an aggressive street campaign and her community website, Caught in Southie.
“I’m not a politician,” she said with a smile, as she stood near a South Boston intersection during a campaign outreach event last week. “Voters are drawn to me because I’m a resident just like them, not someone who has made a career out of politics.”
Web and social media-savvy, and proud of her blue-collar South Boston roots, Dahill has still based much of her campaign on one-on-one introductions to voters.
While her political support is centered in South Boston, she said that her background as a small business owner and her relative political inexperience make her easily relatable to voters in Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park.
She said that she will spend much of the campaign’s final hours racing between Dorchester and South Boston, adding that the race’s focus on the former has cut into her ability to spread her message throughout South Boston, where Collins’ name recognition remains supreme.
Particularly painful was the cancellation of a South Boston candidates’ forum that was slated for the Thursday before Election Day. It was scrapped after Collins pulled out due to a conflict.
But even without the forum, Dahill said, she is pouring hours of time into the streets of South Boston and stood flanked by dozens of supporters on West Broadway on a warm Thursday evening.
“Undecided voter!” shouted one of her supporters, prompting Dahill to cut off a conversation and head in the direction of a college-aged man walking down the street.
The candidates all agree that reaching those voters who might otherwise sit out the special election primary and mobilizing those who have pledged support will decide the race.
While Boston typically sees healthy turnout in presidential votes, primaries — especially for special elections — have historically seen far fewer voters. Just 15 percent of voters in the First Suffolk district, for example, voted in the 2009 Democratic primary for the special election to fill Edward M. Kennedy’s US Senate seat.
“He said that he’s registered, wasn’t going to vote before but, now that he’s met me, I’ve got his vote,” Dahill said, returning from a 10-minute conversation with the man, as she grabbed a yard sign to hold out to passing motorists.
“I’m going to have to follow that one to the polls to make sure he gets there.”