Former rivals John F. Barros and Felix G. Arroyo endorse Martin J. Walsh in mayoral race

State representative Martin J. Walsh won key endorsements Tuesday from two of his former rivals in the race for mayor, gaining the support of nonprofit executive John F. Barros and City Councilor Felix G. Arroyo.

Barros and Arroyo could help Walsh expand beyond his base and win support among the significant swath of largely minority voters who opted for other candidates in the preliminary election Sept. 24. Walsh and City Councilor John R. Connolly finished atop a field of 12 candidates and will face off in the Nov. 5 final election.

Both candidates have been working to woo their former rivals. Barros and Arroyo appeared with Walsh at a press conference in Egleston Square and offered their enthusiastic support.

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Barros in particular took aim at Connolly, who has made school reform the centerpiece of his campaign. Barros did not mention Connolly by name, but he struck at the heart of the councilor’s message by emphatically stating that Walsh would be better for schools.

“Under Marty, we know every child will have a quality seat, a quality education,” Barros said. “Under Marty, we will close the achievement gap for Boston. We’ll make sure to have the best schools in America.”

Arroyo appeared at the press conference with close campaign aides, former advisers, and his father, Felix D. Arroyo, a former Boston City Councilor. The younger Arroyo once worked as a political organizer for a union and made it clear he planned to put his skill to work for Walsh.

“There are 28 days left” until the election, Arroyo said. “We’re going to go out door-knocking. We’re going to go out canvassing. We’re going to go out phone-banking. We are going to visit small businesses. We are going to be in your coffee shop. We are going to be at your train station.”

“We are going to make sure,” Arroyo said, “that the right person with the right vision becomes mayor of the city of Boston. We believe that person is Marty Walsh.”

Walsh said the three men shared a common vision for Boston. He said their endorsement “means a lot more than votes” and will help move the city forward.

“I’m excited. They’re excited,” Walsh said. “Their campaign workers are excited. We’re not John and Felix any more. We’re one campaign.”

Connolly noted the significance of his rivals’ endorsements during a news conference outside of the State House, but said that it was not the be all, end all.

“Hey, endorsements matter. I’m not going to say that they don’t. Of course they do,” Connolly said. “Endorsements matter, but they’re far from everything.”

Connolly added that he expects to pick up a handful of his own endorsements in the coming weeks, but declined to elaborate.

“The endorsements I’m proudest of are the parents standing behind me right now,” Connolly said. “And the thousands of parents across this city who know that I go to work every day thinking about our children first and transforming our public schools.”