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With a splintered electorate, Boston mayoral race will be a fight to be king of a village

Photos by David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

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Boston’s local power bases and history of tribal politics will be tested this September as 12 candidates compete in the first wide-open mayor’s race in a generation. The electorate may be so splintered that most campaign believe roughly 25,000 votes – the equivalent of the population of the town of Yarmouth on Cape Cod – could be enough to win one of two spots in November’s final election. With such a low threshold, the race to make the final is almost like a contest to be king of a village not a big city mayor. Boston remains a patchwork of small towns stitched together after centuries of annexations, staring with a part of East Boston in 1636. In the fight for political power, old seams can start to fray.

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