In response to Christopher’s challenge to make a pro-candidate statement and jconway’s articulate and well reasoned post on his proud support for Congressman Ed Markey, I am proud to support Congressman Steve Lynch for U.S. Senate.
First a couple of disclaimers – professionally: my union has endorsed Steve Lynch. Personally: I have know Steve since he was President of Iron Workers Local #7. I like and respect Steve as a person and appreciate his commitment to public service even while disagreeing with some of his social policy positions.
I believe that Steve Lynch and Ed Markey would be solid votes for Democratic issues and policy in the United States Senate (For that matter I beleive that of Gerry Leone as well). However, I believe strongly that Congressman Lynch will bring a different set of economic priorities to the Senate and that is the basis for my support for Steve Lynch for Senator. There are few voices that can speak on the Senate floor, from direct experience, for working class / middle class voters. Steve Lynch, who attended law school at night while an Iron Worker, began a legal career representing lower income residents in public housing facing eviction and other issues. He has stood on the unemployment line, collected UI benfits to keep a family afloat, traveled as far away as Alaska to find work – he gets first hand, not from economic theory, what this resession has cost wokers and why jobs should remain the priority of the US Senate.
It is that perspective and personal experience that drives my support for Congressman Lynch in this race. He and Congressman Markey share similar AFL-CIO career legislative voting records however, I believe their priorites as a US Senate will be different. Lynch’s focus will be more on blue collar / middle class economics while Congressman Markey’s will be on climate change, telecom and similar issues. A US Senate made up of a majority of wealthy Senators needs a balanced voice with regard to economic issues (Bernie Sanders can’t do it alone).
With regard to social issues, I believe candidates and elected officials can be educated and evolve over time. I am old enough to remember that Congressman Markey won a crowded Democratic Primary as the pro-life candidate on his way to Congress. Steve Lynch will not change positions on social issues as campaign pandering. He has slowly grown toward more moderate positions as a Congressman – Planned Parent federal funding certain comes to mind. Lynch has stated he would have voted and will vote for Supreme Court Justices who are pro-choice, not allowing an anti-choice position to be a litmus test for the highest court.
I have no doubt that Lynch starts out behind Congressman Markey in this Primary – both in campaign funds and name recognition. He also faces a primary voter universe that trends toward more progressive candidates and a Democratic establishment having endorsed Congressman Markey. However, Lynch has been in that campaign position before and won. First as a candidate for State Rep and then shorty after that victory, as a successful candidate for State Senate (defeating William Bulger, Jr in a hard fought primary). I worked for Steve in the 2001 special election after Joe Moakley’s passing. I was running a Lynch phonebank on September 11, 2001 when the attacks began. Everything ground to a halt as my phonebank volunteers were glued to the TV. No one was sure the primary would even go forward that day. The Lynch campaign was the first to recover from the massive shock of 9/11. Phonescripts arrived and voters were called and asked to come to polls -to not let terroeists win by stopping a basic right like voting. I have never experienced a harder, more emotional election day and we did not celebrate Steve’s win that night. But I saw a candidate and a campaign structure face an unimaginable situation, recover and complete the task at hand.
In 2010, after his vote on the health care law, Lynch faced a Democratic Primary challenge from the progressive side of the party (a union staffer in fact) and won that race (an interesting fact given the progressive nature of Democratic primary voters). In 2012 Lynch defeated a Republican opponent who had won a contested primary (Republicans apparently felt Lynch could be beaten – enough to fight over the monination against him). Lynch comes to the April 30th Primary as an experienced campaigner – experience that could make him a formidable primary candidate.
Lynch and Labor – Congressman Lynch will receive strong support from a large section of the Labor Movement(with a number of unions already having endorsed him), but that support will not be universal. Some Unions, recognizing that Markey or Lynch will be potentially be a US Senator and / or returning to the US House of Representatives, may choose to stay out of the primary. With regard to union support, I believe that Congressman Markey made a strategic mistake as he entered the race in December. While he clearly contacted Democratic Party Leaders and some advocacy organizations, he failed to reach out to Organized Labor – leaving Mass AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman and national AFL-CIO leaders off his early call list. Two problems with that decision. First Massachusetts Labor turned a 2010 special election union member vote ratio from Brown 49% / Coakley 47% into a 2012 November election result of Warren 61% / Brown 39% of union members. A significant grassroots organizing effort and structure still in place at this time. Second, with Markey’s career Labor voting record, early calls might have frozen unions into a neutral position and discouraged a Lynch challenge in this primary.
Brown dropping out and Leone Dropping in – Scott Brown’s decision to skip the Senate special could impact the Democratic Primary as well. With a potential Republican Primary, unenrolled / independent voters can choose to vote in either party’s primary. More moderate independents might have been open to a Lynch primary vote if the Democratic Primary were the only game. On the other hand Lynch could benefit from a third creditable candidate such as Middlesex DA Gerry Leone entering the Democratic Primary. While I understand Markey supporters calling Leone a potential spoiler, DA Leone’s decision won’t be based on helping or hurting another candidate – it wil rightly be made on his potential to win the primary.
Ok, I got a bit far of field from my initial why I support Steve Lynch discussion. I believe that Congressman Lynch will bring a different set of economic priorites to the US Senate than Congressman Markey. I believe those priorities are valuable in the pending two years and that a blue collar / middle class voice is badly needed in a Senate where Harry Reid lacks both backbone and balls.