Not long after departing a buoyant victory celebration where hundreds of supporters roared his name, Boston mayoral hopeful Martin J. Walsh, palm extended, was back on the trail early this morning after three hours of sleep.
In front of the Savin Hill MBTA station in the pre-dawn darkness, Walsh shook hands, introducing himself to the trickle of potential voters who hustled by, Charlie Cards in hand, starting at 6 a.m.
Walsh’s was a staccato spiel, well-practiced from months of campaigning, but with a new date in mind: “Good morning, I’m Marty Walsh. I’m running for mayor. I’d like to ask for your vote on Nov. 5.”
Walsh will face off with City Councilor John R. Connolly on the November mayoral ballot after both made the cut Tuesday from the original crop of 12 people who were hoping to succeed Thomas M. Menino.
In his first public appearance of the day, Connolly said he was “overjoyed with last night’s results.”
“We really felt the momentum going into the election,” Connolly told reporters on City Hall Plaza around noon as he prepared to attend a City Council meeting. “The one thing we knew was that we had support across the entire city.”
Walsh’s pre-rush hour campaign stop — which included live interviews with a number of local TV stations — marked the beginning of the second and decisive phase of mayoral election for the state representative.
After another morning stop, Walsh planned to spend the afternoon at the State House, where the House is in formal session.
Though he placed first, Walsh must expand his base, convincing voters who cast their ballots for the losing candidates that he is the better choice than Connolly. Asked on which issues he would differentiate himself from his opponent, he cited economic development, fighting crime, and education, which has been Connolly’s marquee issue.
“I’m the candidate who actually took a vote on education reform,” Walsh said, in what appeared to be a light knock on his opponent. “I didn’t talk about it. It’s not an issue that I’ve been saying, ‘Oh, you know, we have to reform this.’ I actually took a vote that allowed these underperforming schools in the City of Boston to advance.”
Walsh, strongly aligned with organized labor, must also soothe voter concerns that as mayor he would overly deferential to unions. He forcefully pushed back against that notion today, saying he would be fair but tough and transparent and “get the best deal” for Boston taxpayers.
“I’m going to sit down with my friends in labor and hopefully my friends in labor will understand the importance of negotiation in good faith and if they don’t — no one is going to push me around,” he said.
As the sun began to illuminate a clear blue sky, Walsh and his advisers decided to leave the T stop and grab breakfast. With his partner Lorrie Higgins at his side, and photographers snapping shots, he made his way to McKenna’s Cafe.
“Coffee, Marty?” a waitress asked.
“Yeah,” he replied, looking grateful.
It was 7 a.m., exactly 41 days before voters return to the polls.