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In District 1, Boncore denies ‘defensive endorsement’ of Edwards

Joe Boncore won last year’s special Senate election in the First Suffolk & Middlesex District.
Bill Brett for The Boston Globe/File 2016
Joe Boncore won last year’s special Senate election in the First Suffolk & Middlesex District.

The rumor had been spreading like wind on harbor throughout City Council District 1, which includes the North End and East Boston.

It goes like this: State Senator Joe Boncore, who has a big political pull in those neighborhoods, has been making calls, telling his supporters that he is reluctantly backing Lydia Edwards in her bid to succeed City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina, who is retiring at the end of his term later this year.

According to the rumblings, Boncore said he is only supporting her because he is afraid Edwards might someday run against him, and they had struck a deal during their state Senate bid last year to support each other’s election if either lost. Two people told the Globe they got such a call from Boncore.

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But Boncore this week debunked that notion, stressing — for extra emphasis — that none of it is true.

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“It’s laughable,’’ he said. “Someone told me it’s a ‘defensive endorsement.’ I don’t even know what that is.”

John Tlumacki/Globe staff/file 2017
Lydia Edwards, an East Boston lawyer, is facing off against Stephen Passacantilli.

Edwards, an East Boston lawyer, is on leave from her job as deputy director of the Boston Office of Housing Stability. She is facing off against Stephen Passacantilli, a 42-year-old North End resident, who was a staunch campaigner for Mayor Martin J. Walsh in the 2013 mayoral race. He currently is the operations specialist in the city’s Office of Economic Development. The other contender in the race is Margaret M. Farmer, an East Boston resident.

Boncore and Edwards competed in last year’s special Senate election in the First Suffolk & Middlesex District. Boncore, a lawyer from Winthrop, won.

During the race, Boncore said, he and Edwards had “an immediate connection,’’ aligned in their work representing indigent people.

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Boncore, a former public defender, and Edwards, a key player in the 2014 Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, have advocated for affordable housing, erasing income inequality, and helping residents who have been displaced. Boncore said he and Edwards have become great friends and said he was out door-knocking with her over the weekend. He said he hopes to put any doubts of his support to rest.

“I think that it seems like this race is taking a turn,’’ Boncore said. “In my Senate race, we tried to stay above the fray of rumors. But I want to [say] unabashed[ly] that I think that Lydia Edwards is the best person to represent the district.”

Passacantilli, through a spokesman, declined to comment for the story.

Edwards, in a statement, said she is humbled about Boncore’s backing, noting, “It’s a rare thing to have your former opponent’s support.

“I learned by working with Joe how building bridges is necessary in politics to properly serve our community,’’ she added. “We work well together and I am excited to continue to serve the community with him as the next city councilor.”

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.