On the Prado before a statue of Paul Revere in the North End, state Representative Aaron Michlewitz, who serves the historic neighborhood, on Wednesday granted his endorsement to progressive mayoral candidate Michelle Wu — a notable get for the candidate who recent polls show has opened up a significant lead in the preliminary race.
“Throughout our relationship I’ve learned that Michelle is someone I know I can trust,” Michlewitz said, reflecting on a decade of watching Wu blossom from a campaign staffer, to a leading voice on the Boston City Council to a standout mayoral candidate.
“We’ve built this relationship by having open and constructive dialogue on how to best serve the people of Boston,” he said. “And while we didn’t always leave those conversations agreeing with one another, we always left them with a great deal of respect for one another.”
Wu lived in the North End right out of college and later in the South End with her mother and sisters.
“She knows my districts almost as well as I do,” Michlewitz said. “And she knows what challenges my constituents have to face each and every day.”
Michlewitz’ endorsement of Wu could carry significant weight, coming on the heels of news that his colleague, state Representative Jon Santiago, who had been in the run for mayor before dropping out in July, endorsed Janey. At the time, Michlewitz was part of a cohort of state legislators who endorsed Santiago’s campaign.
Michlewitz carries significant power in the state Legislature, as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which controls state finances. He, himself, was once seen as a credible candidate who could have challenged the frontrunners if he decided to run, but he did not.
He also represents a neighborhood, the North End, that could become a critical battleground for votes. The neighborhood has a reputation for voting conservatively, but has been leaning more progressive in recent years. The district councilor who represents the North End, Lydia Edwards, has also endorsed Wu.
On Wednesday, Michlewitz applauded Wu’s work to reform short-term rentals in the city.
“When short-term rentals, like Airbnb, were gobbling up our housing stock, it was Michelle Wu that carried the torch at City Hall, working with us at the statehouse to produce a fair and thorough system that forced greedy investors out,” Michlewitz said.
Wu shook hands with would-be voters, petted their pups, and hugged her endorsers before the 11 a.m. announcement. Tourists wandered by, snapping photos of the moment.
“I’m excited, grateful, humbled to be here,” Wu said.
“Where we are standing now is an incredibly powerful reminder of where Boston has been,” Wu said. “It represented the first stop of so many families in this country to get their shot at the American dream. Boston has led time and again in charting out what that dream looks like, not just in our city but across the country.”
“If there was ever a moment where we needed urgent action and leadership to show what is possible when we all come together, it is right now,” Wu said. “It all comes down to who turns out to vote, we have six days to go to get everyone to the polls.
A pair of debates this week, the first of which is tonight at 7 p.m., loom large in the crowded and increasingly heated mayoral race. The five contenders will get a last chance to lay out their vision for the city and make an eleventh-hour pitch to voters tonight and tomorrow.
Milton Valencia of Globe staff contributed to this report.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified state Representative Aaron Michlewitz as a state senator. The Globe regrets the error.