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Dead heat in Boston mayor's race, poll shows

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts state representative with strong ties to organized labor is closing in on a former schoolteacher-turned-city councilor in the Boston mayoral race, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

City Councilor John Connolly had the support of 35 percent of likely voters, while 34 percent said they intended to vote for state Representative Marty Walsh, according to a MassINC Polling Group poll of 503 likely voters conducted for WBUR radio over the weekend.

Twenty-eight percent of voters were undecided, with less than two weeks to go till the November 5 election.

The poll had a margin of error of 4.4 percent, making the finding a statistical tie.

A poll earlier this month by the Boston Herald and Suffolk University showed Connolly with a 41 percent-34 percent lead on Walsh.

Both candidates are Democrats and seeking to succeed Boston's longest-serving mayor, Thomas Menino, who plans to step down after 20 years in office.

Thirty-four percent of voters surveyed said they were concerned that labor unions would have "too much" influence on City Hall if Walsh, who holds a key leadership role in the city's local laborer's union, is elected. Just 10 percent of voters thought unions would have too much power if Connolly were elected.

Walsh's campaign has enjoyed strong support from local unions, while Connolly has focused on education issues, calling for a longer school day and simplifying the process by which students are assigned to local schools.

Boston mayors don't face term limits and are rarely defeated in re-election campaigns. The city has not elected a Republican mayor since 1926.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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