The Race for City Hall

John R. Connolly, in frenetic campaign push, calls race ‘a jump ball’

After an early morning radio interview, City Councilor John R. Connolly hopped out of his campaign SUV just after 7:20 a.m. and bounded up the stairs of the Forest Hills MBTA station.

He wasn’t the only one.

The final stop on the Orange line, Forest Hills is a major commuter hub and thus, with less than 24 hours until voters hit the polls, was a major municipal election battleground for most of the day.

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The stop kicked off a flurry of campaign events for Connolly, as he hopped from neighborhood to neighborhood courting voters on the final day of the race.

In addition to Connolly, who shook hands and passed out literature for about an hour, the T station also had a heavy contingent of supporters of his opponent, Martin J. Walsh, as well as City Council candidates Martin Keogh, Jeff Ross, and Jean Claude Sanon.

“This thing is a jump ball,” Connolly said as he shook hands. “Every last voter interaction counts.”

With Walsh sign holders at every door, Connolly staked out a spot near the subway entrance, extending his hand to each rider as they paid their fare.

“How ya doing, John?!” said one man, who hurriedly shook the candidate’s hand just before 8:15 a.m. as he jogged to catch a train. “You know you’ve got my vote tomorrow!”

As he made his way to the door, Connolly shook one last hand — bounding over to former mayoral candidate and Walsh surrogate Felix Arroyo.

Arroyo, an at-large councilor who is popular in Jamaica Plain, led the group of about 10 Walsh canvassers who spent a few hours at the train station.

“You know what? I voted for you and now, because of your endorsement, I’m going to vote for Marty tomorrow,” a woman told Arroyo as he shook her hand just before 9 a.m.

“See!” Arroyo said afterward, with a smile. “I got one!”

Throughout the morning, Connolly’s message stayed consistent: His opponent is a good guy whose hands are tied by special interests.

He spent about half an hour in Empire Garden, a popular restaurant in Chinatown, where he made his pitch to voters who were eating breakfast.

“I’m John Connolly and I’m going to work hard to make sure we support our seniors, have great schools, safe streets and a strong economy,” Connolly said, as a translator interpreted for him.

Then, as is his campaign style, the candidate worked the room—making sure not to miss a single hand.

From there, it was off to Mattapan where Connolly made his pitch to a senior center Mattapan. “John Conn-lee” the seniors chanted enthusiastically as the candidate smiled and clapped along.

Next, he headed to Jamaica Plain for a stop in the campaign field office and handshaking outside of Whole Foods. Surrounded by cameras, Connolly fielded questions about Walsh’s outside spending and about his chances in the tomorrow’s vote.

“We’ve been working hard every day of this campaign,” Connolly said. “And we’re going to win tomorrow.”

This afternoon, Connolly met up with members of his Roxbury field office to stump outside of the shopping plaza at MLK Boulevard and Warren Street. The reception was warm, with Connolly at times being surrounded by excited voters who waited patiently for their chance to shake his hand.

“I need your vote,” Connolly told a woman pushing a shopping chart out of a store. “Don’t worry, I’m voting for you John,” she said.

Moments later, Connolly was embraced by Mary Franklin, a supporter and founder of the Mothers for Justice group, who was coming out of the shopping center.

“Are you registered to vote? Did you vote in the presidential election?” Franklin asked a woman walking into the center. “You did? Then come on, you need to meet John.”

Connolly spent more than an hour at the shopping center, in the heart of Roxbury, a crucial battleground for both candidates in tomorrow’s election. “We’re getting a great response,” Connolly told his staff members, adding that several people had cited his recent endorsement by Charles Clemons when telling him that he has their vote.

Before dashing off to record a televised interview, Connolly popped into a nearby McDonald’s, where he gave an impromptu stump speech before snagging a burger and coffee.

Later today, he has scheduled an election eve rally at at the Mecca shopping center at Grove Hall, Dorchester.

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