And underneath all of this simmers the north/south split in the district. Many residents of the southern portion of the district — including Cedar Grove, Neponset, and Adams Village — see O'Toole as their hope of keeping the seat anchored in their part of Dorchester. Baker has used this to depict O'Toole as divisive; a recent mail piece showed an image of Dorchester ripped in half under O'Toole, and sewn back together under Baker.
FORRY FAMILY TIES
All this shifted into overdrive shortly after the preliminary, when Baker received a string of endorsements that added to the momentum from his surprising first-place finish.
Those nods came from union locals representing teachers and firefighters, and from state representatives including Nick Collins and Carlos Henriquez.
O'Toole's supporters now whisper that the state reps are really siding with Walsh, more than endorsing Baker — a not-too-subtle way of bringing anti–Beacon Hill sentiment into the race. Of course, Baker supporters are not too subtle about using anti-Menino bias to woo former Galvin supporters.
But the lightning rod of the bunch was Dorchester state representative Linda Dorcena Forry — a rising star and well-known political face, thought to have higher ambitions that could include Menino's office.
Forry was quickly the target of angry phone calls, widely distributed e-mails (some of which I have seen), and public complaints. People close to her say it's been coordinated by Menino's people; Menino's people insist it is independent of them.
Either way, it doesn't take long to realize that there's more to the reaction than just the alleged disloyalty of a state rep. Forry is married to the editor of the Dorchester Reporter. Menino's circle believes that the Reporter has been out to get the mayor for the past few years. Even before the endorsement, O'Toole supporters have accused the paper of deliberately attacking their candidate as part of a supposed crusade against Menino.
Those complaints became so intense, after a Reporter story on a civil lawsuit involving O'Toole, that the editors took the unusual step of publishing a defense of its political coverage.
Forry's endorsement of Baker solidified the conspiracy theory for the Menino and O'Toole camp — equaling the Baker and Walsh teams' belief that Menino's capos are behind everything they dislike.
As a result, everything is now seen as part of some coordinated attack.
There have allegedly been false rumors spread that Baker (who had a DUI and marijuana possession arrest 20 years ago) was arrested just a few years ago selling drugs in a school zone. There have allegedly been push-polls telling seniors that O'Toole is not planning to devote his full time and attention to his council job. City employees are supposedly being pressured if they put Baker signs in their lawns. The O'Toole campaign claims it has to replace vandalized lawn signs daily.
And when the Baker campaign opened an office in the southern part of the district, on Adams Street, it was defaced with eggs and feces the very first night.
These and other acts may be overblown in the retelling, and may have nothing to do with the campaigns themselves — but the fingers are being immediately pointed at the great conspiracies. And in some cases, they may be right.