You don't need to be a master of political science to figure out Congressman Stephen Lynch's campaign strategy. Just look at his schedule for Thursday, where he eats and where he makes his official announcement to run for Senate. Those three stops lay the foundation of the former ironworker's upstart bid to be the democratic candidate to fill John Kerry's soon to be vacated Senate seat.
First stop this morning for Lynch was O'Brien's Corner in Springfield. The combination restaurant, bar, and political haunt is a hub of working class Democratic politics in Springfield. Owner Brian O'Brien, a former cop, has hosted a who's who of candidates in his domain and launched many a political career. All comers are welcome at O'Brien's Corner, but being Irish can open the door wider. If Springfield had a South End like Boston, O'Brien's Corner would be its crowning jewel and a great place for Lynch to expand his base.
I frequented O'Brien's Corner when I was a reporter in Springfield. It was a great place to decompress, but also plug into some great sources. I often had to remind Mr. O'Brien that my last name did not completely reflect my ethnic lineage. He would chuckle and say, "Oh yeah, I forgot, you're Gaelic and garlic, God bless your mother." Even with my incomplete Irish heritage, I'm probably more at home in O'Brien's Corner than the anointed Democratic candidate Congressman Edward Markey. Don't get me wrong, Ted Kennedy, the elitist of the elite Democrats was welcomed as royalty at O'Brien's Corner. But, Kennedy spent time in the district and could relate to the regular guy. Ed Markey is no Ted Kennedy, and he's unknown at O'Brien's Corner.
Then Lynch made his way to the heart of the Commonwealth, my hometown, Worcester. He joined the lunchtime crowd at the Parkway Diner. For more than a half century, it's been an institution for the working class. Recently, it was remodeled. They maintained the original diner car, but added a modern sports pub. It's on Shrewsbury Street, the vibrant Italian neighborhood that ironically hosted the first Irish immigrants of the 19th century.
The Parkway, its location and its clientele reflect the diversity of the state's second largest city. If you want to meet people who are engaged in political debate and knowledgeable, stop into the Parkway. It's a free standing focus group of voters from both sides of the aisle, the perfect place for Congressman Lynch to gauge the reaction to his candidacy. If there's one spot in central Mass where a "Boston" politician would be recognized, it's the Parkway. I dare say some diners would even be able to pick out Ed Markey from a line up because one of the wide screen TV's is usually tuned to a national cable news network. But, Ed Markey has never been there.
The final campaign stop for Lynch is the Iron Workers Union Hall Local #7 in South Boston. That's where he began his political career as a union officer and that's where he'll make his official announcement. Last week, I made the analogy that the linchpin for Lynch is labor. He's up against the national Democratic Party machine and a lot of money. He needs motivated, tough, and loyal friends to win. These are the kind of people he befriended as an ironworker.
Lynch is pro-life and voted against Obamacare. The Democrats who will come out in a primary are the liberal wing of the party. They may find those positions hard to swallow. Lynch is hoping there will be more voters with a cast iron stomach.