Reporter's Notebook: Taking the temperature in Brown’s Southie base

Over the weekend, the campaigns of Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren brought in star power in a bid to roust their respective supporters ahead of Election Day.

US Sen. Brown’s rally on Main Street in Melrose featured Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee for president, and Warren’s campaign featured Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, on Main Street in Southbridge.

But all politics being local, that’s where things get interesting.

Brown’s campaign headquarters is located at 337 Summer St. in South Boston, a blue-collar neighborhood he won handily in 2010. Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee in the special election to replace the late US Sen. Edward Kennedy, won Boston with 69 percent of the vote, but Brown triumphed in Southie, which is known for its conservative Democrats.

Perhaps that’s why some of the longtime elected officials in the area appear to be walking a tightrope as the Wrentham Republican battles for a full six-year term. Warren, a Cambridge Democrat and a Harvard professor, is the Democratic nominee this time around, and polls show her ahead.

The South Boston Democrats who have left office – former Mayor Ray Flynn and former state Rep. Brian Wallace – are backing Brown. The two of them joined Brown at Castle Island on a sunny day in April to show their support and add their names to an ever-expanding list of “Democrats for Brown.”

Among others, it’s not so clear. Take, for instance, District 2 Councillor Bill Linehan. To be sure, he has his mind on contentious matters closer to City Hall. He’s chairing the Council’s census and redistricting committee and attempting to get a map to Mayor Thomas Menino’s desk that redraws the city’s political boundaries in a fair and balanced manner.

Asked where he stands in the Senate race, one of the hottest in the country, Linehan demurred. “I’m not endorsing anybody,” he said, adding that he is a loyal and lifelong Democrat while noting that he has “very close” friends and family who are supporting Brown. The councillor also said that Brown has done a “really good job” during his time on Capitol Hill. Those remarks are likely to stir consternation among the ranks of party purists.

In the parts of South Boston and Dorchester that Linehan represents, Brown won by 1,285 votes in 2010. Ward 6 makes up a large chunk of Southie, and Brown picked up 3,804 votes to Coakley’s 3,021 two years ago. For his part, Linehan, whose current district also includes Chinatown and the South End, won reelection last year by 87 votes, fending off a challenge from newcomer Suzanne Lee.

As for Congressman Stephen Lynch, he has stayed largely quiet about whom he’s backing in the Senate campaign, as he focuses on getting to know the new parts added to his district by State House lawmakers last year, such as Quincy and Hingham.

Lynch, who has served in Congress since 2001 after holding positions in the state Senate and House, did note earlier this year that he would endorse Warren eventually. And in a June appearance on WBZ, Lynch told Jon Keller, “I already have.” But so far, he has not appeared on her public schedule, unlike his Congressional colleague Michael Capuano, who has greeted Warren supporters in East Taunton, Bridgewater, and Boston University.

Lynch and Capuano both represent parts of Dorchester.

Jack Hart, who worked with Brown in the state Senate, is similarly quiet. Now the Senate assistant majority leader, Hart took Lynch’s seat when Lynch ran for Congress.

For Brown, South Boston is not completely impenetrable: state Rep. Nick Collins, who succeeded Wallace at the State House, is backing Warren. The youngest member of the South Boston delegation, Collins has turned out for several campaign events, including one for Warren supporters at the Harp and Bard.

By and large, elected officials from Boston, including Mayor Menino, are solidly in Warren’s camp. While Menino vacationed in Italy, the mayor’s troops appeared to launch a new Twitter feed spotlighting Hizzoner: Warren, it said, is “the candidate who will have Boston’s back, and that’s why I have hers.” The “tweet” echoed Menino’s comments from his recent endorsement of Warren and perhaps, as one political science professor noted, gave an indication of what 2013 will hold.

Jackson fundraiser lures Patrick

Gov. Deval Patrick hasn’t just been helping President Obama get reelected; he was scheduled to headline a fundraiser for City Councillor Tito Jackson on Tuesday night at the Revere Hotel Theatre. Jackson is a former aide who worked in Patrick’s economic development secretariat and on the governor’s reelection campaign.

“It is an honor and a privilege to represent the people of District 7 on the Boston City Council, and it is my hope that I continue to serve the city in the years to come,” Jackson wrote in an e-mail promoting the fundraiser.

Next Tuesday (Oct. 30), the governor’s focus will be back on Obama. He will be joined by First Lady Michelle Obama for the “Taste of Boston” event at the Park Plaza Castle on Columbus Avenue. General admission costs $250, while $3,500 will net guests a “photo opportunity.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at Email us at and follow us on Twitter: @LitDrop and @gintautasd.

Subscribe to the Dorchester Reporter