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Boston Mayoral Race Whittled to Two Finalists

Boston voters yesterday selected a city councilor with a strong school reform agenda and a state representative closely aligned with organized labor as the two finalists in the city's mayoral sweepstakes to succeed longtime Mayor Thomas Menino. 

Massachusetts State Rep. Martin Walsh captured the most votes in a field of 12 candidates, while Boston City Councilman John Connolly came in second place. The two men now advance to the Nov. 5 general election. The future of the city's public schools was a marquee issue throughout the campaign's first round and will likely remain so in the run up to the final contest.

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Connolly, in particular, ran a campaign that focused sharply on improving public education. He also drew the support of local and national education reform organizations who like his stance on charter schools, but after drawing fire from fellow candidates, he publicly rejected a $500,000 offer of support from Stand for Children, which had pledged to sink the money into television advertisements and other independent expenditures on his behalf.

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The city's schools have a lot riding on who succeeds Mayor Menino, who has had authority over the school system since 1993. Whoever wins in November will have to select a new superintendent for the 57,000-student district and help guide the most dramatic change to school assignment in the city in 25 years.

Top: Boston mayoral hopeful John Connolly, who won the second highest number of votes, waves to supporters with his wife, Meg, and their baby, Mary Kate, at his primary election night party in Boston yesterday. The top two vote-getters in the preliminary election move on to compete in the Nov. 5 final. Current Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced earlier this year that he would retire after more than 20 years in office. 

Bottom: Martin Walsh, a state representative who captured the most votes in a field of 12 mayoral candidates, gestures to supporters as his girlfriend, Lorrie Higgins, center, applauds at his primary election night party in Boston yesterday.

--Elise Amendola/AP

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