Acting Mayor Kim Janey gets backing from a former rival, state Representative Jon Santiago

With less than a week to go before next Tuesday’s preliminary elections, state Representative Jon Santiago is rallying behind a former rival, Kim Janey, the acting mayor who is seeking a full term.

Santiago, who struggled to break through a historically diverse field and beyond the South End and Roxbury neighborhoods he represents on Beacon Hill, dropped out of the race in July.

He stated at the time that it had become clear to him that “the people of Boston are moving in the direction of supporting a woman of color.”

Four of the current candidates, including Janey, are women. The others are Michelle Wu, the front-runner based on recent polls, Annissa Essabi George, and Andrea Campbell — all city councilors. John Barros, the city’s former chief of economic development, is also running, but trailing his competitors in the polls.

Santiago appeared with Janey and supporters Wednesday morning at Villa Victoria in the South End.

“I am so proud to endorse Kim Janey for Mayor,” said Santiago in a statement, noting that he, an emergency room physician, and Janey, a longtime education advocate, have spent most of their careers doing “something other than politics.”

As mayor of Boston, he said Janey has “tremendous compassion, determination and ability,’’ adding she is leading the city through the pandemic. He praised her for ensuring that 70 percent of residents receive at least one shot “while implementing bold measures” to take on the Delta variant.

Former mayoral candidate Jon Santiago (left) endorsed Acting Mayor Kim Janey.
Former mayoral candidate Jon Santiago (left) endorsed Acting Mayor Kim Janey.CRAIG F. WALKER/GLOBE STAFF

“She is delivering results to combat the housing crisis and doing so with empathy and resolve,” he added. “And she is committed to a Boston that is both equitable and just. I look forward to working with her to realize that vision for the next four years.”

Janey is in a tight race for second, according to a new Suffolk University and Boston Globe poll that shows her neck-and-neck with Essaibi George and Campbell. The top two finishers from the preliminary move on to compete in the Nov. 2 general election.

The poll, released Tuesday, also shows that Janey’s support dipped by 2 percentage points since the first Suffolk-Globe survey in June.

Janey, the former city council president from Roxbury, had largely ignored criticism from her competitors, but in recent days she signaled she was prepared to fight to be among the top two to advance to the general election.

Last week, Janey pushed back at Essaibi George, who said Janey is demonstrating a “lack of leadership” in getting federal funds to help protect people from eviction, saying, “nobody should lose their home right now.”

Janey pointed to a Globe story showing that Essaibi George’s husband has a history of evicting low-income tenants and that her council office had been involved in a city hearing into a project that could affect one of his developments.

“While I’ve worked to keep Boston residents in their homes, make housing more affordable, and put in place a ban on evictions, Councilor Essaibi George has used her office to support her and her husband’s business — which has a documented history of evictions, housing court violations and late payments of property taxes,” Janey charged in a statement to the Globe.

Her campaign also took a stronger tone with Campbell, who has been holding press conferences criticizing Janey on a range of issues.

Campbell, the District 4 councilor, held another press conference Tuesday demanding that Janey disavow the first negative ad of the race — by an independent super PAC that slams Campbell for associating with charter school proponents.

Janey’s campaign manager, Kirby Chandler, wasted little time with a response, blasting Campbell in a statement, saying Campbell’s “entire campaign is based on negative political attacks on Mayor Janey.”

Chandler said that “instead of attacking hotel workers for expressing their political views, Campbell should condemn the dark-money, right-wing millionaires who want to privatize our public schools and have poured millions of dollars into TV ads supporting Campbell’s campaign.”

Janey appeared to want to strike a different tone Wednesday with Santiago by her side. In a statement, she praised his public service and professional acumen.

“Jon has always stood on the front lines in the fight for a better Boston,’’ she said. “I am grateful to have his thoughtful counsel and valuable support as we work together to address the intersecting crises of substance use and homelessness, build housing every family can afford and have schools where every child can thrive.”

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