Menino is said to like Schofield, although he's not generally inclined to wish for an ally of Connolly's to succeed. More important, Menino would prefer to have a Boston-based senator in that seat.

But observers say that they haven't seen much sign of Menino's presence in the race — yet. They suspect that he doesn't have enough interest in the race to call upon the manpower he just leaned on a few weeks ago in the municipal elections.

That could change, however, if McCarthy gains steam after Tolman's endorsement. McCarthy was the designated negotiator — hand-picked by Menino nemesis Ed Kelly — for the Boston firefighters in last year's extremely contentious contract mediation.

As Menino and his lieutenants begin to contemplate McCarthy in Boston's State Senate delegation, they might put the full machinery in motion for Schofield. That would be a path to victory hard to picture for Schofield a few years ago, but perhaps a more reliable one than counting on his fellow Brighton progressives.

To read the Talking Politics blog, go to thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. David S. Bernstein can be reached at dbernstein@phx.com. Follow him on Twitter @dbernstein.

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