The thrust of her column is so obvious as to be hardly worth stating: liberals within the Democratic party are more likely to back Ed Markey than Steve Lynch. Well, duh. Markey is overall more liberal than Lynch; Markey has one of the best records in the entire Congress on climate change, which is important to liberals, whereas Lynch among other things has supported building the Keystone XL pipeline, which liberals hate (Lynch has recently backtracked on Keystone, but only very recently); Lynch voted against Obamacare, for the Stupak amendment, and for federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, while Markey did none of those things. Vennochi tries to narrow the distance between Markey and Lynch by accepting at face value Lynch’s explanation for his Obamacare vote (“He opposed it, he said, because the legislation was flawed and ended up as a giveaway to health insurance companies. Lynch may be right on principle…”), and his weeks-old change in tone on abortion rights (“If elected to the Senate, Lynch said, he wouldn’t vote to make abortion illegal. He also pledged to oppose any Supreme Court nominee who might vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.”), while doubting the sincerity of Markey’s 30-year-old shift on abortion rights to the place where he’s been since the 1980s (“His explanation for the evolution is anything but smooth…”). Not sure how that’s fair, but hey, politics is a rough business.
Perhaps worse, Vennochi goes way, way off the rails by drastically distorting Steve Lynch’s own words regarding who is allegedly not being fair to Lynch. Here’s how Vennochi’s column starts:
Steve Lynch is right.
The Democrats who control his party didn’t want him to run for US Senate. And, once he defied them, the national party — aided by local enforcer John Walsh, who heads the state committee — would naturally work against his campaign to beat Ed Markey.
“They haven’t been fair,” Lynch told the Boston Herald. “. . . I think they’ve done their best to discourage people from sending me contributions from Washington.”
OK, I agree – and said as much before Lynch was even in the race – that the national party, specifically the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), shouldn’t have jumped into the primary the way they did. But for Vennochi to claim that John Walsh is a “local enforcer” for the DSCC and has been “working against [Lynch's] campaign,” well, that just seems flat-out wrong. Let’s look at what Lynch actually said in the Herald interview that Vennochi cites (emphasis mine):
U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, the underdog in the Democratic special Senate election, blasted national Dems for their unfair backing of his rival U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey and for blocking donations to him….
“They haven’t been fair,” Lynch said of the national Democrats who he says have funneled donations and some union support Markey’s way. “No they haven’t been fair. I think they’ve done their best to discourage people from sending me contributions from Washington. They’ve basically said Markey’s our guy, don’t give to Lynch.”
In a wide-ranging interview with the Herald today, Lynch said he faces an uphill battle because the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee backed Markey.
Not a word in there about the state party, or John Walsh. In fact, this morning Lynch’s own spokesman, Conor Yunits, specifically disowned Vennochi’s charge on Twitter:
For the record – that charge didn’t come from us. @JohnEWalshDem has been extremely fair.
I mean, Walsh is on record in Vennochi’s own paper as liking the idea of a contested primary between Markey and Lynch. That doesn’t sound to me like someone who wants to clear the field for Markey, or for anyone else.
Later in the column, the reason for Vennochi’s distortion of Lynch’s views to include the state party becomes clear: she’s still mad about Marisa DeFranco.
A variation of this preselection process played out during the Bay State’s last Senate primary. Democratic leaders chased everyone but Elizabeth Warren out of the contest. The previous crop of would-be Democratic contenders faded quietly into that not-so-good political night — except for Marisa DeFranco, who was kept off the ballot at the state convention when she didn’t comply with party wishes.
“Didn’t comply with party wishes”? For God’s sake, we have been over this many times. Anyone who cares to dig into BMG’s archives will find numerous posts about the 2012 caucuses – held months before the convention, and apparently out of the Globe’s field of view – at which numerous observers reported that Elizabeth Warren had organized the crap out of them, thereby securing tons of committed delegates, while DeFranco was nowhere to be seen. It was also widely reported that DeFranco’s speech at the convention redefined “not ready for prime time.” Sure looks from here as though DeFranco didn’t get on the ballot because she was a weak candidate who didn’t think she had to put in the hard work of getting her ducks in a row long before the convention, and I’d respectfully suggest that Vennochi should reveal any reporting or evidence she has to the contrary. Indeed, I think it’s disrespectful to Steve Lynch – a sitting congressman with an impressive record of vote-getting and election-winning, whatever you may think of his views – to lump him in with Marisa DeFranco.
If you strip away all that stuff, Vennochi’s basic point is so bland as to not merit writing up separately (which is perhaps why the rest of the stuff is in there):
Liberal politics dominate Democratic primary turnout and drive this race. Markey’s positions on health care and abortion rights are key to the support he’s receiving…. Markey’s backers are fighting for their definition of the soul of the Democratic party. To that end, they will pour every dollar they can into Markey’s campaign and they will work to turn out every like-minded voter.
Well, yeah. That is pretty much how elections work, isn’t it? It is no surprise that Democratic primary voters tend to lean left, just as Republican primary voters tend to lean right. It also is no surprise that the activists who are deeply engaged in the primary are “work[ing] to turn out every like-minded voter.” In fact, we should applaud that, shouldn’t we? We should want people out there pounding the pavement, trying to generate excitement about their candidate, right? Lynch supporters of course are doing exactly the same thing, as they should. A 100% turnout in this special election would be something to celebrate, wouldn’t it?
So, overall, a bad column. But nobody’s perfect.