BOSTON (Reuters) - A former school teacher turned city councilman is leading in the race to become Boston's next mayor, though his rival, a state representative with strong ties to the labor movement, is closing in, according to a Boston Herald/Suffolk University poll released on Monday.
Councilor John Connolly had the support of 41 percent of likely voters, ahead of the 34 percent who support Representative Martin Walsh in the first poll since the two candidates, both Democrats, emerged as the leading contenders following last month's primary.
Some 23 percent of 600 likely voters surveyed from October 2 through October 6 remain undecided, according to the poll, which has a 4 percent margin of error.
Connolly and Walsh emerged as the leading candidates among 12 contenders in Boston's non-partisan primary, held on September 24. The liberal-leaning city has not elected a Republican mayor since 1926.
Connolly and Walsh are campaigning to succeed the longest-serving mayor in Boston history, Thomas Menino, who has held the office since 1993 and in March said he would not seek an unprecedented sixth term.
Incumbent mayors in Boston are rarely unseated, making this the most competitive race the city has seen in years.
Connolly's lead has narrowed from polls conducted before the primary, when 44 percent of voters asked about a theoretical Connolly-Walsh matchup said they would likely vote for the education advocate in the November 5 vote while 29 percent said they backed Walsh, who has served in the state legislature since 1997.
"Walsh has some momentum," said David Paleogos, who heads Suffolk's polling operation. "He's within striking distance."
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Kenneth Barry