Expert Says Lynch’s Health-care Vote Fueling Much of Support for D’Alessandro
September 13, 2010
By Erik Potter
Enterprise Staff Writer
U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch and Democratic challenger Mac D'Alessandro head into Tuesday's primary in an increasingly contentious battle for their party's nomination to 9th Congressional district.
The two squared off on WGBH Thursday night for their second and last debate of the primary season. Neither debate lasted more than 20 minutes.
D'Alessandro, a first-time candidate for office from Milton, has criticized Lynch for weeks for avoiding a debate.
"Voters might have come to expect this sort of arrogant behavior from Washington politicians, but it doesn't make it right," D'Alessandro said in a written statement.
Lynch, of South Boston, dismissed the debate controversy as efforts at publicity.
"I understand it's difficult to get out there and get yourself known by the voters. ... If I had decided when I first started out (in politics) that I wanted to be in Congress, it would be really hard," Lynch said.
The candidates have sparred over policy issues as well, most notably the health care reform law passed this spring, which Lynch voted against, saying it was a gift to the insurance industry, and D'Alessandro supported, saying it was a crucial first step at reform.
That health care vote is what is fueling a lot of D'Alessandro's support among liberal activists, said Peter Ubertaccio, director of the Martin Institute for Law and Society at Stonehill College.
"I think that the edge in terms of who's angry and who's going to come out to vote is the activists. And in the 9th Congressional district you're going to have a core of liberals who've never been with Lynch who want to send him a message," he said.
Ubertaccio did not think that "message" would add up to a win for D'Alessandro, however.
"The benefit of the doubt goes to the person who has the most experience in turning out the vote and has a district-wide organization. And that goes to Lynch," he said. "He works his district really hard. I think he's got a reservoir of support in the district."
There are also two Republicans vying to challenge Lynch or D'Alessandro in November, Vernon Harrison, 54, a data technologist from Braintree, and Keith Lepor, 49, a freelance war photojournalist from Roslindale.
The winners on Tuesday from each party will face off in the November election.
Both GOP hopefuls are first-time candidates who are sounding an economic message of lower taxes and less regulation.
However, at $13,000 raised between them, according to OpenSecrets.org, neither approaches the Democratic candidates in terms of fundraising.
Lynch, 55, sits on a massive war chest of more than $1 million. He's raised $650,000 this cycle with roughly half coming from political action committees and half from individual donors.
D'Alessandro, 40, has raised $270,000, 92 percent of which came from individual donors and 8 percent from PACs.
"This weekend becomes really really crucial in determining how effective D'Alessandro's field organization is going to be in using the energy that's being supplied by liberal activists and using them to his advantage," Ubertaccio said. "I think at this point it's one of those classic guesses for what it's going to be."
The 9th Congressional District extends from South Boston west to Wellesley and south through Brockton to the Bridgewaters.
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