boston mayoral race SPLIT
CNN  — 

The city of Boston will select the two finalists for its November mayoral election on Tuesday in a preliminary contest that will have a historic result, no matter the outcome.

There are five major contenders for the job, with City Councilor Michelle Wu leading the field in most recent polls. The others widely believed to be competing for a place on the fall ballot alongside Wu are: Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who took over from former Mayor Marty Walsh, who left office in March to become President Joe Biden’s Labor secretary; City Councilors Andrea Campbell and Annissa Essaibi George; and John Barros, the city’s chief of economic development under Walsh. The eventual winner will serve a full, four-year term – and become the first non-White person elected to the city’s highest office.

Janey is the first Black person and first woman to lead Boston, which has for two centuries elected only White men to the mayor’s office. In this contest, none of the leading candidates are White and the frontrunners are all women. The only man in the upper tier, Barros, is considered a heavy underdog. Wu became the first woman of color to lead the city council when she took over as its president in 2016. Campbell, who is Black, and Janey followed her. Those two, along with Essaibi George, were bunched together according to a recent Suffolk University and Boston Globe poll, with Wu leading the pack.

“The race for second place will not only be determined by undecided voters and the respective get-out-the-vote efforts by the candidates, but also by soft Wu voters who may opt to vote for their second choice instead in order to control the selection of both finalists,” Suffolk University Political Research Center Director David Paleologos wrote with the poll’s release.

The survey was conducted before back-to-back debate nights last week, two mostly tame affairs following weeks of intensifying clashes, most notably between Campbell and Janey. Essaibi George, who has sought to seek out the moderate lane, sat between the two in the Suffolk-Globe poll. She has the backing of former Boston police commissioner William Gross, the first Black person to hold that job. Unlike some of the other leading candidates, Essaibi George is running on a more police-friendly platform. Others, like Wu and Campbell, are pushing for deeper structural changes to the department.

Janey, who as a young child took part in the city’s school busing program, an initiative designed to integrate Boston schools that was met with fierce backlash in some predominantly White neighborhoods, assumed office in March following Walsh’s confirmation to Biden’s Cabinet. In April, she announced she would run for a full term.

“To think that we would have a Black mayor in my lifetime, even though we’ve had a Black president, still kind of felt out of reach,” Janey told CNN in April. “That we have one and that it’s actually me is kind of mind-blowing.”

Turnout tends to be low in preliminary elections like this, further complicating the prediction game, but some operatives believe the state’s new no-excuse vote-by-mail option could lead to a slight uptick in the numbers. Massachusetts saw record turnout in the 2020 presidential election, with almost half of the votes arriving through the mail.

Though Walsh has not endorsed in the race, the state’s highest profile Democratic elected official, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, is backing Wu, one of her former students at Harvard Law School. Wu volunteered for Warren’s Senate run in 2012 and was first elected to the city council a year later.

“Michelle has always been a fighter – as one of my students, as a Boston city councilor, and now as a candidate for Mayor,” Warren said in a statement announcing her endorsement in January. “She is a tireless advocate for families and communities who feel unseen and unheard.”

The Sunrise Movement in Boston is also backing Wu, along with other leading environmental groups and unions, including Teamsters Local 25 and the United Auto Workers Region 9A. But the race for labor support has been largely split, with SEIU Local 888 and 32BJ SEIU endorsing Janey. AFSCME Council 93, along with the firefighters union and IBEW Local 2222, are supporting Essaibi George.

Campbell was endorsed by the Boston Globe’s Editorial Board earlier this month.

“She radiates a sense of urgency, a palpable hunger to confront Boston’s hardest, most politically fraught challenges – its uneven schools and a law enforcement system that has lost the trust of too many residents,” the board wrote. “That drive, paired with her nuanced thinking about what can make the city more vibrant and equitable, is what distinguishes her from her opponents in this year’s mayoral election.”