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Walsh, Jackson proceed to general mayoral election in Boston

Barry Chin (left), Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Mayor Martin Walsh and City Councilor Tito Jackson greeted supports on Tuesday.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh will take on City Councilor Tito Jackson in this fall’s marquee municipal contest after Tuesday’s preliminary elections set up a lopsided face-off in a city that has not ejected an incumbent from the mayor’s office in decades.

Walsh, who has served one term, captured 63 percent of the vote, while Jackson received 29 percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to unofficial results from the city. The duo — former political allies — will square off on Nov. 7.

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Turnout, as predicted, was a very light 14 percent, with about 56,000 people casting votes, according to city results.

As the polls closed, Walsh supporters and volunteers streamed into the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall in Dorchester to await results and words from the mayor. Walsh appeared on stage with his mother, Mary, his longtime partner, Lorrie Higgins, and her daughter, Lauren, shortly after 10 p.m.

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“I look forward to six great weeks of positive conversations in every single neighborhood,” Walsh told supporters, vowing to fight for a $15 minimum hourly wage and pledging to build a statue to honor civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. “We don’t just talk the talk, we are building real solutions.”

Five miles north at the Harborside Lounge by Quincy Market, Jackson encouraged supporters to press on through November.

“We told you from the beginning of this campaign on Jan. 12 that the cavalry was not coming,’’ Jackson said. “All of the people we needed to save us are in this room right now. We don’t need corporations to save us, and what was proven today is that people won over power.”

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The other contenders in the preliminary contest were Robert Cappucci, a former Boston police officer and former elected School Committee member, and Joseph Wiley, a customer service representative for MassHealth. Cappucci received 7 percent of the vote, while Wiley got less than 1 percent.

Earlier on Tuesday, after voting at their local precincts, Walsh and Jackson sought to convey that the election will be about the mayor’s record, the two candidates’ competing visions for moving the city forward, and issues that concern Bostonians, such as affordable housing.

“Judge me on my record, and . . . [the] good things we’ve done,’’ such as alleviating chronic homelessness, setting record home construction numbers, and attracting 60,000 jobs to the city, Walsh said after voting in his Lower Mills neighborhood.

Jackson has countered that some residents have not benefited from the city’s economic boom, and that he would spend the next six weeks waging a “people’s campaign” that urges increased public school funding, more affordable housing, and safer communities.

“I believe that people have already taken a serious look’’ at my campaign, Jackson said after casting his ballot in Grove Hall. “The mayor has also taken this very seriously. It’s time for a change.”

But many voters stayed home Tuesday. In the last preliminary mayoral contest in 2013, which had a dozen contenders, turnout was 31 percent. Political analysts attribute that turnout to the fact that it was the first open mayor’s race in 20 years.

Except for three open council district seats that are in contention this election season, there was not much enthusiasm in this year’s preliminary contest, political analysts say.

In 2009 — when former mayor Thomas M. Menino sought what would become his final term — just 23 percent of the electorate voted.

Walsh, who served in the Legislature for 16 years before running for mayor, began the campaign season with an outsized financial war chest. He has support from local unions and the state’s Democratic Party establishment, hired a high-powered team of strategists, and unleashed a massive organization of staff and volunteers.

When Walsh ran four years ago, Jackson was among his biggest political supporters, and communities of color helped sweep Walsh into victory over rival John Connolly.

Walsh, in interviews this week, said he does not expect to cede to Jackson any voting bloc that boosted his 2013 campaign.

“I’m trying to make sure that the base that elected me as mayor stays with me,’’ Walsh said, referring to communities of color. “That was the base that helped get me elected and I’m working to keep that base.”

Jackson, who has a much smaller organization, has done scores of media interviews in an attempt to capitalize on free publicity and spread his message. He’s attended numerous community forums and enlisted hundreds of volunteers.

Jackson has been struggling to gain traction after some early stumbles in the race — including the departure of his first campaign manager — and a regular deluge of controversial policies and statements from the Trump administration that have soaked up the public’s attention.

But Jackson, a former political director for former governor Deval Patrick, said he feels encouraged by the encounters he has had with scores of people who urge him to stay in the race, stay on message, and keep pressing the issues they value.

He said the moment is not lost on him that he is the first black candidate in more than 30 years to enter into a general election for mayor.

After voting Tuesday, the councilor appeared emotional as he described what he felt when he checked his name off the ballot.

“It was amazing,’’ he said, then collected himself. “I voted for my mom, I voted for my dad, and I voted for this city that made me who I am today.”

Looking back on his tenure, Walsh said it seemed like “yesterday” that he ran in the 2013 preliminary contest.

As he checked off his name for mayor, he said, “I couldn’t believe that four years went by that fast.”

Milton J. Valencia of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.
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