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slides: Who Are Worcester Pols Backing in U.S. Senate Fight?

Friday, February 08, 2013


With the state’s GOP nomination for the vacant U.S. Senate seat looking grim, GoLocal is taking a look at what state and local politicians are saying about the top two Democratic candidates – Ed Markey (D-MA 5th District), and Stephen Lynch (D-MA 8th District).

Governor Deval Patrick has already voiced his support for a Democratic primary before the special election, and local politicians are making their voices heard as to which one they would like to see take John Kerry’s seat.

At the State Level

State Rep. John Binienda (D-17th Worcester District) said he has known Stephen Lynch for years. Binienda supported Lynch in his run for office in the past, and now, he said it’s the “normal flow” that he would support him again.

“Number one, he’s a working man. He’s an iron worker and a member of iron worker’s local,” he said. “On top of that, he’s a regular guy – no pretenses with him. He’s not a wealthy man. He’s a ‘Joe Six Pack’ kind of guy.”

Binienda also offered a very personal story about the candidate: “Several years ago his brother-in-law took sick with a liver ailment, and doctors found that [Lynch’s] liver would be a match.”

He said that Lynch gave half of his liver in the operation. “I’m happy to say they’re both alive and well.” But personal merits aside, Binienda said that Lynch’s goals would be with working families in mind.

“I think his chief goals will be the working men and women of Massachusetts,” he said. “To bring them better working conditions, hiring conditions, and pay raises. That sums up Stephen Lynch. He would help them have a better life. In my opinion, he’s an outstanding guy.”

Other state leaders were not as quick to state their decisions.

Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray said that, with both candidates for the seat coming from different areas of the party, he couldn’t make a decision yet, despite sharing a communications company with one of the candidates – Liberty Square Group. On the group’s website, they list Murray and Lynch as two individuals who were provided communications counsel from their President, Scott M. Ferson.

“Both bring very different skills to the table and have very different backgrounds,” Murray said. “The race looks a little bit fluid right now. I look forward to supporting either congressman at this point.”

State Senator Michael Moore (D-2nd Worcester District) also couldn’t make a call, saying, “Right now with the Democratic primary coming up, I’m making myself available to both candidates. I’m probably going to stay looser until after the primaries,” he said.

Local Opinions

Worcester City Councilor Joseph O’Brien said he’s pulling for Markey based on his political leanings.

“I appreciate the work he’s done for organized labor, and I feel that he’s closer to me politically on a number of things that I think are important issues,” he said, naming abortion rights and access to healthcare, specifically. “His record isn’t as strong as Markey’s,” he said in reference to Lynch.

Councilor Konstantina Lukes said she is usually one to support the underdog, and said that if Lynch can overcome a couple obstacles, he could give Markey a good race. Although she added that she rarely throws her support in a statewide race, Lukes believes this special election will prove interesting.

“Given the political leanings of Massachusetts, Lynch can give Markey a good fight and maybe even beat him,” she said. “Lynch has some hurdles to overcome, one being money. Because Markey has been in politics for some time, he does have a lot of baggage. But the question then becomes, can Lynch can get that message out in time?”

When asked whether there were any Republicans she thought would have a good chance at the seat, Lukes said that state Rep. Dan Winslow (R-9th Norfolk District) has proven himself very competent but that he has “overwhelming” obstacles to overcome. “And he can’t depend on the state’s party to be unified under him.”

Councilor Kate Toomey is also rooting for the underdog, and said she’s known Lynch for well over fifteen years.

“I have had great rapport with him. He has come to Worcester on many occasions and understands the issues that affect urban areas, like Worcester,” she said. “He is a hard working person who put himself through law school. He came up the hard way, and I have to respect him for that.”

Toomey said that although she doesn’t agree with Lynch entirely on every vote he’s taken, “He looks at the issues from the perspective of the hard working people in the Commonwealth.”

“He’s been a friend to Worcester,” she said. “And it’s good to know someone who’s in Congress will do that.”

Councilor Sarai Rivera said that although she’s not 100 percent, she’s “leaning towards Markey.”

“His politics seem to be more progressive,” she said, adding that she will need to take a closer look at his voting, especially on economic development.

Too Soon to Call

Still, many said their votes were too early to call, including Councilor Philip Palmieri.

“This campaign continues and is obviously evolving on the Democrat’s side, and I don’t anticipate any others getting into the race, but one of the last potential candidates to bow out – Gerald Leone – was a formidable candidate. I don’t know if any others will be coming in, but I don’t think anyone can tell you 100 percent that’s not going to be the case.”

Councilor Tony Economou said he had no comments this early, and Worcester Mayor Joe Petty also said he is waiting.

Councilor George J. Russell said he is still interested in hearing from the candidates about how they would affect Worcester. 


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