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  • Arlo Hatcher

Michelle Wu Receives Endorsement from Mayor Kim Janey after Preliminary Election

The mayoral preferences for Boston were somewhat unclear in the lead-up to the preliminary mayoral elections. City Councilor Michelle Wu had been leading in the polls in the immediate, but the second place candidate proved to be a toss-up between Acting Mayor Kim Janey, City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, and City Councilor Andrea Campbell. However, on September 14, Boston voters went to the polls and selected Anissa Essaibi-George to run against Michelle Wu in November.

In the aftermath of the tense preliminary, both of the final candidates began receiving endorsements for the general election. Essaibi-George picked up endorsements from IBEW Local 103, Sprinkler Fitters Local 550, Iron Workers Local 7, while Wu received endorsements from 1199 SEIU, and State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz. Both candidates, however, already counted on the support of many labor unions before the preliminary election, making it hard to determine which candidate will have the most support from organized labor. On Saturday, September 26, Wu received what may be a crucial endorsement and a turning point in the race.

At an event held at Nubian Square in Roxbury, Acting Mayor Kim Janey endorsed Councilor Wu’s mayoral campaign. “I believe she is the candidate with the record and the values to not only protect the progress that we have made, but to build upon that progress to create a city that is more equitable, more just, and more resilient,” Janey said. Wu praised Janey's record as Acting Mayor of Boston and made positive remarks on the close relationship the two have maintained since sharing a campaign office in 2019.

The announcement is unprecedented in Boston’s electoral history and is indicative of a potential progressive coalition that is beginning to surround the race's frontrunner. Wu, who over-performed in lower-income and student districts, is now established as the most progressive candidate in the race. On the other hand, Essaibi-George over-performed in the higher-income and whiter areas of Boston and is now cemented as the moderate option in the race. However, the leader of Boston’s most diverse districts proved to be Kim Janey, who captured 45% support in Boston’s least white areas. Janey's endorsement of Wu is an indication of a coalition forming between progressives wanting significant economic reform- such as Wu's plan to introduce Green New Deal influenced legislation to the city- and marked racial justice progress.

Janey’s endorsement is also one of the most high-profile endorsements of the race, just behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) endorsement of Wu in January. Rarely does a mayor, especially one who is still in service, endorse another candidate in the race. Former Mayor Martin Walsh has publicly stated that he will not endorse, and the only other living former Mayor of Boston, Raymond Flynn, hasn’t endorsed a candidate for any race since 2012. The unprecedented nature of this public support straight from City Hall will certainly cause a rift in the election.

There’s also the analytical advantage afforded to Wu from this endorsement. While Acting Mayor Janey received the fourth most votes in the election, she still received 19.5% of the votes. Combined with Wu’s 33.4%, the two candidates' voters would constitute a majority of the electorate. Now, election math obviously is not as simple as that, and not every Janey voter will become a Wu voter, but with the endorsement, it’s likely a significant portion of them will.

This new development may not be just bad news for Essaibi-George. In the lead-up to the election, Janey lost a significant amount of support due to some public dissatisfaction with Boston's recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for making a comment comparing a city-wide vaccine mandate to “slavery.” While Wu herself has been an advocate for vaccine mandates, it is possible that some of Janey’s negative perceptions will reflect poorly on Wu and alienate some voters.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey’s endorsement of Michelle Wu is a monumental and unprecedented moment in Boston’s mayoral election history; one which is certain to shake up a tightly contested election when voters decide who will next lead the city of Boston on Tuesday, November 2.


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