In Final Days Before Boston's Election, Negativity Arises in Mayoral Race

Voters will decide whether Michelle Wu or Annissa Esaibi George is Boston's next mayor on Nov. 2

NBC Universal, Inc.

The gloves are off in Boston's mayoral race, with a new attack ad directed at Michelle Wu from "Bostonians for Real Progress," a PAC of mostly local labor unions.

The ad claims Wu would defund the police, the MBTA and other city services. It ends with the tagline, "For real progress, not radical change, elect Annissa Essaibi George."

Essaibi George says she has nothing to do with the ad and that it does not come from her campaign. But she does say the ad speaks to some of her concerns.

"There's very specific examples of Michelle looking to defund the city," she said.

"It's a dishonest tactic, a political move, and I'm extremely disappointed," Wu said.

Known as one of the city's top public transit advocates, even calling for free MBTA service, Wu laughed at the assertion in the ad that she even proposed defunding the T.

"I have called repeatedly and loudly for more investments," she said.

"Well, I'm curious where those resources will come from, and how she'll pay for that and who will pay for that," Essaibi George shot back.

With election day coming up on Nov. 2, Boston mayoral candidates Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George are looking to stand out to voters. The TEN looks at contentiousness that has cropped up in what has long been a cordial race and what can be expected Tuesday at the debate hosted by NBC10 Boston.

The ad was released Sunday, the same day Wu was approached at a morning campaign event by about 20 people with flyers promising $100 gift cards for participating. The flyers were handed out at the city's troubled Mass. and Cass area, Wu campaign spokesperson Mary Lou Akai-Ferguson said in a statement.

"Upon learning that the flyers weren't actually from our campaign, several people were extremely disappointed because they said they were hungry and wouldn't otherwise have the chance to eat that day," Akai-Ferguson said. "Our campaign ordered sandwiches for those who showed up. This was a heartless, manipulative move, and we call on the Essaibi George campaign to condemn this despicable tactic."

"This is despicable," Wu said Monday of the incident. "To be manipulating our residents in the service of political tactic. And so we've called on the other campaign to condemn this tactic."

Essaibi George called the notion that the flyers could have come from her campaign "absolutely ridiculous."

"It's a distraction from the work. Myself and my campaign had nothing to do with that," Essaibi George said.

"I take my colleague at her word when she says that she did not know about this," Wu said. "But it is on each of us as leaders and as candidates to set the right tone."

Both candidates have called for outside groups to stay out of the race, but with passionate supporters on both sides, many feel the negative campaigning by third parties will continue.

Wu and Essaibi George will take part in their second head-to-head debate Tuesday at the NBCUniversal Boston Media Center. You can watch it at 7 p.m. Tuesday on NBC10 Boston and NECN, or stream it live here.

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