Fair enough. Factor in the native-son element — Lynch grew up in Southie and represented the area as a state senator; Dunkelbarger hails from New York, and lived on the North Shore before moving into the Ninth District — and it’s clear the stars aren’t aligned in the challenger’s favor.
That said, Dunkelbarger has also been hurt by his own shortsightedness. Lamont made a buzz in Connecticut largely by mobilizing local and national political blogs on his behalf, and by reaching out to progressive Democratic organizations like Democracy for America (DFA). In contrast, Dunkelbarger hasn’t even contacted the Boston chapter of DFA to solicit its endorsement — and his candidacy has essentially gone unmentioned in the increasingly robust liberal blogosphere here in Massachusetts. It’s a strange blind spot for a candidate who comports himself with aggressive confidence. When I mention it to Dunkelbarger, he sounds almost apologetic. “It’s definitely something we’re aware of,” he says. “I’ve got to admit to you, I’m 57 years old, and the blogging. . . . I know how to use the Internet and computers and so forth, but blogging is not something in which I’m experienced.”
Over the next month, Dunkelbarger promises, his campaign will take a great leap forward, technologically speaking. By then, of course, it may be too late. All the ingredients for a substantive internecine fight are present — but right now, the great Dunkelbarger-Lynch battle of ’06 may never occur.
Then again, it might. Democrats, especially liberal Democrats, are in high dudgeon this election year. If Dunkelbarger could create, say, a canny campaign video or two, the progressive infrastructure that’s grown up around the Internet could turn him into a left-liberal celebrity overnight. This, in turn, could force Lynch to play defense on Iraq — and that would be no easy task. At the very least, Dunkelbarger still has the chance to force Lynch into a debate about what it means to be a Democrat today. And win or lose, this would be a good thing for Massachusetts.
On the Web
Adam Reilly's Talking Politics blog: http://www.thephoenix.com/talkingpolitics
Phil Dunkelbarger: http://www.dunkelbargerdemocrat.org/
Stephen Lynch: http://www.house.gov/lynch/
Ned Lamont: http://nedlamont.com/