ProgressiveMass now has endorsed progressive challengers to Richard Neal (MA-1) and Steven Lynch (MA-8). Not really any surprises here, but I wonder if at some point there will be a stampede to the exits for two of the least-progressive or -effective members of the Massachusetts US House delegation. This would be an earthquake; and while it’s still probably a long shot that both would be replaced, it seems more likely this year than ever before.
Neal has been a nebbish in the face of the Trump administration’s brazen corruption: He never got Trump’s tax returns, which is a pretty fundamental thing and his bailiwick as Chair of Ways and Means. He was responsible for writing the error-riddled CARES act — citing the advice of Robert Rubin and in which help only got to ordinary people quite late; but somehow managed to end up in the hands of wealthy not-very-small businesses. He’s known for granting access to special interests at lavish fundraisers. None of this really screams “Springfield Mass.” at me. If there were a poster boy for Congressional-Democratic-Establishment ineffectuality, Neal would be it.
His challenger Alex Morse is the young Mayor of Holyoke is painting himself as a progressive of the new post-Bernie mold: Pro-Green-New-Deal, and -Medicare For All. But to posit any policy ambition equal to our moment is an indictment of Neal.
Game developer Brianna Wu was the only challenger to Lynch, but she dropped out a month ago, citing the difficulty of campaigning during the pandemic. I know very little about Lynch’s remaining challenger Robbie Goldstein, an MGH primary care doc who jumped in earlier this year — here’s an interview from Jamaica Plain News.
Goldstein: I have not met Congressman Lynch. Every day, I hear from folks in the district about our shared challenges that have gone unaddressed for too long: the existential threat of climate change, traffic that seems to get worse with every commute, and the rising costs of housing and healthcare taking up more and more of every paycheck.
My impression of Congressman Lynch comes from my own experience and what I’ve heard from other voters and residents: that he has failed to lead on these and other issues that impact every person in the 8th District in one way or another. Whether it’s the epidemic of gun violence or the opioid crisis, climate change or rising income inequality, our collective failure to act means that more and more people suffer.
Lynch is tough in this district — just vulnerable enough to invite challengers, and strong enough to turn them back. He is really well-connected with some of the most powerful constituencies, like the trades, of which he was a member. They were loyal to him in 2013 when he ran against Markey in the Senate special primary. But there’s always a question of the breadth of his appeal in the Dem coalition; and those unions didn’t carry the day against Markey in 2013. If things are shifting in MA-8 like they seem to be in other places, Lynch could have a fight on his hands.
It must be exceptionally hard these days to have a feeling “on the ground” for what people are feeling in those districts. And I haven’t seen any polling. But one might imagine that the Trump era is making people ready to break things, even in their own blue districts. Anyone got any insight?