That's both a help and hindrance, one Boston campaign strategist says, because a lot of voters in O'Toole's home turf aren't looking for an establishment guy. Galvin is seen as something of a Michael Flaherty man (perhaps explaining Menino's tacit support of O'Toole), and in the last mayoral contest, Flaherty actually beat Menino in Ward 16, which is the heart of Neponset/Cedar Grove.

Meanwhile Baker has connections all over the district — he is the 12th of 13 siblings, and the family runs thick throughout Dorchester.

A good example: Baker has had some help from the Cahill family that runs Florian Hall — an institution of the southern portion of the district. How did that happen? The Bakers and Cahills are related by marriage.


This is exactly how the campaign seems to be unfolding. That, unfortunately, probably leaves out two promising candidates who, in a different sort of election, might have had more of an impact in the diverse district. The two are also hurt by their similarity to one another: they are both black, female political aides. Stephanie Everett of Mattapan works for State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, and Mary-dith Tuitt of Dorchester's St. Mark's district is chief of staff to State Representative Gloria Fox. (Two perennial candidates, Doug Bennett and Marty Hogan, are also running.)

Everett and Tuitt are thought to have little chance, for much the same reason that minority and progressive candidates were never able to make much headway challenging Feeney — even as the district rapidly transformed.

Not to take anything away from Feeney, who worked hard to cultivate the minorities, immigrants, and young families who moved in; but the fact is that Boston's municipal elections, held in odd-numbered years in between state and national races, are typically low-participation affairs, with older, more traditional, long-time residents doing most of the voting.

That also means whiter. Of the 30 precincts that comprise the district, 11 are majority white and non-Hispanic. Those 11 precincts make up just a third of the population, but accounted for 56 percent of the vote in the low-turnout November 2007 election — the last non-mayoral city election.

But those minority and "New Bostonian" voters might turn out for the general election, say a couple of campaign-team members. That's partly because of the growing political sophistication of the district's large Cape Verdean and Vietnamese communities, and also because of the potentially large interest in the plight of Ayanna Pressley and Felix G. Arroyo in the city council's at-large race.

To read the Talking Politics blog, go to Follow David S. Bernstein on Twitter @dbernstein.

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