The question is: When will Feeney endorse O’Toole?

Endorsements can be tricky things. Closely watched by insiders, they are often considered to have little impact on voters. But endorsements bring more hands to the endorsee’s organization from the endorser, along with an influx of money, and a signal that the candidate has serious backing, which can move the needle in a race.

Which brings us to the latest in the District 3 race, where seven candidates are jockeying to replace City Councillor Maureen Feeney, from whom a formal endorsement is likely to come soon. She has said she can’t imagine sitting on the sidelines as the would-be councillors battle it out for her seat.

That hasn’t stopped political observers from noticing that Feeney is often seen at events with John O’Toole, one of the candidates and a former president of the Cedar Grove Civic Association. During this past weekend, for instance, they marched together at the Gay Pride parade that made its way through Back Bay and Beacon Hill.

Feeney’s presence there was key for O’Toole, who is facing questions publicly and privately about his support for gay rights because he said he signed an anti-gay marriage petition in 2005. O’Toole followed up that admission by noting his support over the years of gay and transgender rights. (See story, Page One.) Feeney, who has long known O’Toole from his days at the Cedar Grove association, is a top supporter of gay rights. In the eyes of local political observers, Feeney marching with O’Toole was a clear sign of the candidate she’s backing, a de facto endorsement. And that’s a good thing for O’Toole, who, if that is the case, instantly becomes the frontrunner in a crowded field.

Dorchester has frequently seen other instances of an incumbent backing someone to replace them. When she retired from the House of Representatives in 1999, Charlotte Golar Richie indicated her support for Marie St. Fleur as her successor in the Fifth Suffolk District. And when James Byrne declined to run for another term as Dorchester’s city councillor in 1993, he encouraged his chief-of-staff at the time to go for it. The chief-of-staff was, of course, Feeney.

Strangely, however, pictures of Feeney and O’Toole marching together were taken off the O’Toole campaign’s Facebook page not long after they went up (and the Reporter requested copies). Visual proof of the two at the parade remains available on the website of the gay rights advocacy group, KnowThyNeighbor.org.

Mea culpa to Marty Hogan

An apology is in order to Marty Hogan, one of the seven District 3 candidates running to replace Feeney. The South Boston native was unintentionally left out of a June 9 write-up of the various candidates running for City Council who marched in the Dorchester Day Parade. Hogan is a technology consultant who has served as president of the Dorchester Day parade committee.
Next week: At-large forum in Back Bay

Boston’s Ward 5 Democratic Committee hosts the first forum in the city on June 21 for the seven candidates running for four City Council At-Large seats. The Boston Phoenix’s David Bernstein will moderate the forum, which will start at 7 p.m. at the First Church in Boston, which is located at the corner of Marlborough and Berkeley streets in the Back Bay. The seven candidates include the four incumbents – Stephen Murphy, John Connolly, Felix Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley – and three other candidates: Michael Flaherty, the former city councillor at-large and mayoral candidate, Hyde Park’s Will Dorcena, and past candidate for City Council Sean Ryan.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren, seeking to take on U.S. Sen. Scott Brown next year, will also speak to Democratic activists at the forum.

1199 SEIU honors back-to-school grads

A few hundred union members were honored last week as graduates of a union education fund aimed at helping healthcare workers return to school and receive degrees. The fund, a collaboration of the 1199 SEIU health care workers union and healthcare employers from across the state, focuses on training and education and expanded into Massachusetts in 2006.

Sarah Denton, a Fields Corner resident who works as a certified nursing assistant at Radius Hospital in Roxbury, was initially reluctant to take the classes, concerned about her age in comparison to younger students. “But something told me, ‘Sarah, try it,’” Denton, 63, said. “It helped me in math. I fit right in. My skills weren’t as rusty as I thought they were.”

“I can’t tell you how much satisfaction I get out of an event like this,” state Labor Secretary Joanne Goldstein told the crowd of graduates.

Quote of Note: Charlie Baker on the media

The 2012 U.S. Senate election here is still some 17 months away, but one thing is pretty certain: If Scott Brown is re-elected, the media will be blamed. And if he loses, the media will be blamed. The media blame game is a favorite activity among the more zealous activists on both sides of the political divide. They seem to have plenty of time to post their haphazard darts on local political blogs or on Twitter. Even politicians – again, on both sides of the aisle – sometimes get into the act. And it’s refreshing to see a politician on the losing side of an election have a mature reaction to the coverage. Charlie Baker, who lost to Deval Patrick in last year’s governor’s race, wrote a column for Commonwealth magazine’s website outlining the lessons he learned from his campaign, including the observation that reporters look to test candidates. “They will want to know what makes you tick. They will poke you and prod you … They – and your opponents – will study your past to determine if there’s something there the voters should know about, and they will try to knock you off balance,” Baker wrote. “It’s just part of the game. You need to stay on message, off your heels, and on offense.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Follow us on Twitter at @LitDrop.