Democrats from across the state on Thursday night converged at the Boston Teachers Union headquarters in Dorchester and heard from the two Congressmen hoping to succeed U.S. Sen. John Kerry. Expecting to face off against one another in the April 30 primary, Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston) and Ed Markey (D-Malden) pitched their candidacies to a roomful of dozens of activists.
While is his official campaign launch isn’t until Saturday, Markey told the crowd, “It begins now. The primary is, believe it or not, in 90 days.”
In his remarks to the assembled activists, Lynch called Markey a “friend” and said their voting records match up 95 percent. The campaign will likely be about the 5 percent “where we don’t agree,” Lynch predicted.
Lynch said he anticipated the Republican nominee to be former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who lost in November to Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard professor and former Obama administration official. Brown, who remains popular, has not yet said whether he will run in the upcoming special election.
Brown won a 2010 special election to replace the late Edward Kennedy because he cobbled together a coalition of moderate and conservative Democrats, as well as independents, Lynch said.
He can “take away that formula” from Brown, Lynch argued. “I had a pick-up truck, too,” he said, in a reference to Brown and the GMC pickup made famous in the 2010 election.
Lynch, a former ironworker who won a seat in Congress in 2001, said he drove his truck from his home on G St. to construction sites. “So I can strip away that veneer that Scott Brown is good for working people,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Lynch toured Massachusetts, hitting Springfield and Worcester before heading to the Iron Workers Local 7 Hall on Old Colony Ave for a rally. “We won’t win this race because of money, or endorsements or backroom deals to clear the field,” Lynch said. “We will win by earning the support of the good people of this state the way it should be won: By courage, by honesty and by hard work.”
Markey, who first won his seat in Congress in 1976, was asked by reporters at a farewell gathering in Faneuil Hall for Kerry whether he had wanted to clear the field. “My belief is that anyone should be able to run and I am going to run as well and lay out a vision for the country and Massachusetts, reflecting what I’ve already done,” he said.
Markey added: “My candidacy is going to be based upon the battles which I have waged in the past against Big Oil, against the gun industry, against the polluters, against all of those interests who harm the lives of ordinary families in Massachusetts.”
Sandi Bagley, a state committeewoman who has previously served as chair of Dorchester’s Ward 15 Democratic Committee, said she supports having a primary, but is personally backing Markey. “Both candidates, they’re known in their districts and for their issues,” she said.
South Boston City Councillor Bill Linehan called Lynch “the person for the job.” “He’s a moderate,” Linehan said, after attending Lynch’s rally at the ironworkers’ hall. “If you’re a moderate in Massachusetts, you’re a conservative. In the other 49 states, you’re a liberal.”
Others are staying out of the race for now. Auditor Suzanne Bump, a South Boston resident, said she’s not endorsing in the primary, unlike two of her fellow constitutional officers – Treasurer Steven Grossman and Attorney General Martha Coakley – who endorsed Markey.
Separately, the state committee members voted to move their state convention, set for Lowell this year, to July 13 from June 1, in order to focus getting out the vote for their eventual nominee in the general election on June 25.