But no matter how deep the loyalty, a new regime will sweep to power in November. Even if Menino remains on the sidelines, his political organization could make the difference in what promises to be a fractious fight to seize power in City Hall.
“I believe everybody who is even thinking about running is going to be courting the mayor’s machine,” political strategist Joyce Ferriabough-Bolling said. “What I mean by that is courting the keeper of the machine, Mike Kineavy.”
Kineavy did not respond to text messages and phone calls seeking comment last week. In the past, he has compared election workers to athletes who thrive on competition. Kineavy and his lieutenants repeat a maxim from a campaign years before: If you don’t wake up in the morning feeling like you have to vomit, you’re doing something wrong.
“It’s the pressure,” Kineavy told the Globe in November. “The task at hand is enormous.”
The machine does not always win. In 2006, Menino threw his muscle behind Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly in the Democratic primary for governor. Reilly was trounced in Boston by a 3-to-1 margin by a first-time candidate named Deval Patrick.
In 2011, the machine made an aggressive push for an open City Council seat that covers much of Dorchester. Menino’s man, John K. O’Toole, lost by 12 percentage points to Frank Baker.
But when the machine fires on all cylinders, it can have a substantial impact, unleashing a surge of voters, according to Doug Rubin, a senior strategist for Patrick’s 2010 reelection and Warren’s commanding victory.
“It’s an extremely effective operation,” Rubin said. “Michael [Kineavy] is an organizer. He understands all this stuff from the ground up. This is not just somebody giving the orders and everybody follows. Michael has really built an organization that is a true grass-roots organization.
“That’s a credit to him,” Rubin said, “and the mayor.”