BOSTON (CBS) – The debates are done; the door-knocking is almost over. And in the closing TV ads from the Boston mayoral finalists, you can see the undercurrents feeding into this campaign’s climax.

“I don’t play politics; I fight for our families,” says Annissa Essaibi George in her final pitch. “Too often politicians come along with empty promises and then leave our communities behind. Not me.”

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Here Essaibi George is re-upping a key campaign theme: that Michelle Wu’s rhetoric keeps writing checks – for rent control and a free MBTA – that reality can’t cash. Wu’s wide lead in the polls suggests it’s a charge that hasn’t stuck.

Essaibi George: “As mayor, I will bring us together to make big plans to take on our city’s challenges and to take bold action to get it.”

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Wait a second. Here it’s Essaibi George promising “big plans” in language that sounds familiar. Cue the closing Wu ad: “You want a mayor who will deliver big, bold solutions.”

Yes, “bold” is now a preferred adjective of both campaigns. And “bold” is an apt description of a change-branded candidate like Wu who’s been running as a de facto incumbent, embraced in her own ads by figures from the local political establishment in footage that might make you think, if you didn’t know better, that she’s already been elected. “This woman will be our mayor!” declares District Councilor Lydia Edwards in the ad.

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Wu earned front-runner status by topping the citywide ticket in her last two council races and winning big in the September preliminary. And she’s run a classic frontrunner’s race, frustrating Essaibi George’s efforts to gain traction. We’re about to find out if Boston voters have been truly energized by a race where both candidates wound up sounding pretty much alike.

Jon Keller