Even so, that may not be enough to unseat the five-term incumbent. Plus, some skeptics say that Wu — a big regional organizer for President Barack Obama — may be too liberal and too inexperienced to do the job.
But Wu says that, if she runs, her campaign could bring results even in defeat. If Lynch is more worried about a threat from the left than from a Republican, she argues, that could affect his vote on impending legislation on climate change, financial regulation, and education.
The upcoming special election to replace former state senator Anthony Galluccio — who resigned earlier this year, after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, and subsequently going to jail for violating his probation — tends to get referred to as the “Cambridge race.”
The seat has indeed been held by a Cantabrigian since Tom Birmingham’s old district was redistricted in 2001. And half of this year’s six-Democrat field lives there. But this year’s race has the potential to be decided by a small portion of Boston that remains in the district: Charlestown.
Charlestown residents have seen a surge in appearances by the State Senate candidates in the April 13 primary. Five of the six candidates attended a debate in Charlestown this past weekend. (Dennis Benzan was ill.) They came fully prepared to talk up the key issues of the neighborhood. Each professed steadfast opposition to LNG tankers coming through Boston Harbor; each plans to work urgently to combat drug abuse, particularly OxyContin; each wants to save the Charlestown library from closure; and each wants to see wise development at the Navy Yard and Sullivan Square.
“I’ve seen the candidates out quite a bit this time,” says Peter Looney, Charlestown political activist and chairman of Charlestown Against Drugs. Other locals agree — particularly citing Sal DiDomenico and Tim Flaherty as highly visible, as well as Charlestown resident Dan Hill.
DiDomenico and Flaherty have in fact both called Charlestown “very important” to their election strategies, in conversations with the Phoenix. Flaherty, a Cambridge attorney (and son of former House Speaker Charles Flaherty), has a campaign office on Main Street. DiDomenico touts a number of Charlestown residents helping the campaign, and recently targeted his first mailing to Charlestown voters.
That’s a big change from the special election for the same office three years ago, says Looney. That year, candidates battled over vote-rich Everett, largely ignoring Charlestown, which accounted for less than 15 percent of the total primary vote — well behind the “power centers” of the district: Everett, Cambridge, and Chelsea. (The district also includes parts of Somerville, Saugus, Revere, and Allston-Brighton.)
But the dynamics are different now, because each of the population centers has a “favorite son” candidate. DiDomenico, an Everett city councilor, is assumed to have a huge advantage in that city; Michael Albano lives in Chelsea; and the Cambridge vote is likely to be split among Flaherty, former mayor Denise Simmons, and community organizer Benzan.
Meanwhile Charlestown’s Hill, an environmental lawyer running as an outsider, has raised little money and is thought to have little chance of victory — meaning that Charlestown’s votes could be up for grabs.
David S. Bernstein can be reached at email@example.com. To read the “Talking Politics” blog, go to thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics.