After a campaign of new ideas came a pair of victories by traditional means. City Councilor John Connolly and state Representative Martin Walsh rose above their many talented rivals by dint of organization. They proved that even in a changing city, time-honored methods of organizing — around neighborhoods, labor unions, and endorsements — still deliver votes. They also showed that voters still respond to candidates with proven track records in office and familiar names.
But the ideas that emerged from the campaign — a broad consensus in favor of school reform, greater diversity in public-safety agencies, and a faster pace of neighborhood development — will outlive the means of organizing. The preliminary election was a contest among 12 candidates, in which drawing even 20 percent of the splintered electorate would be good enough to win. The general-election campaign will be different. Neighborhood loyalties and endorsements, particularly from defeated rivals, will play a role in determining who is the next mayor, but so too will the scope and inclusiveness of the candidates’ visions. Connolly and Walsh should address themselves less to their former rivals than to the tens of thousands of Bostonians who voted for them — each of whom sought to change the city in a slightly different way.