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Federal Employee Unions Could Help Lynch in Mass.

By Ed O'Keefe

Joseph Kennedy's decision to not run for his uncle's U.S. Senate seat means several other Bay State pols will soon join the contest.

Stephen Lynch
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) is considering a run for the U.S. Senate.

Among those considering a run in Massachusetts is Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch, 54, a South Boston native first elected to the House in 2001 to replace the late Rep. Joseph Moakley (D). Lynch has taken out nomination papers, but said he must weigh family matters before deciding to run. (For a fuller analysis of the crowded Senate field, read The Fix's analysis here.)

The Eye's readers should take note of a possible Lynch candidacy because he chairs the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia. That makes him a go-to guy on every major debate about pay, benefits and safety issues of concern to federal employees -- and also on the financial future of the U.S. Postal Service.

His interest in the Postal Service is personal: Lynch's mother was a postal clerk and he once bragged during a House hearing that 17 members of his extended family either work for or collect retirement benefits from the mail agency. He has the experience to back up his working class concerns, because he joined the Ironworkers Apprenticeship Program after high school and later served as the youngest president ever of the Iron Workers Union Local 7.

"Much of my work in Congress has been dedicated to fighting for working men and women and protecting our seniors and our veterans," Lynch said in a statement late last week about his possible candidacy.

Though he may get knocked by liberals for his anti-abortion stance and lacks the statewide name recognition and large bank accounts of possible rival candidates Martha Coakley and Martin Meehan, Lynch's get-out-the-vote efforts could get a big assist from union members eager for another labor-friendly senator.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the nation's largest federal employees union, would not comment on the Senate primary, but spokesman Michael Victorian called Lynch, "a good friend to AFGE," adding later, "He's been a great subcommittee chairman and we've enjoyed a great relationship thus far."

AFGE and the National Treasury Employees Union represent thousands of federal employees in Massachusetts, including FDIC workers in Boston and IRS employees at the Andover processing center. Most of them are members of NTEU.

Though the union does not officially comment on unannounced candidacies, NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley all but endorsed Lynch's Senate bid in a statement late last week.

"I can say that with his labor background, and particularly his leadership of a large local in the Ironworkers Union, Rep. Lynch brings enthusiasm, a deep understanding and commitment to issues important to working people, including federal employees," Kelley said.

"He has emerged as a key player in the day-to-day effort to advance federal employee issues. NTEU appreciates this leadership and his work on many issues important to federal employees," she said.

An NTEU endorsement would be accompanied by donations from its PAC and union members sending letters, making phone calls and driving voters to the polls, the union said.

If the enthusiasm expressed privately last week by union staffers is any indication, Lynch will get plenty of help from federal employees if he decides to run. Stay tuned.

By Ed O'Keefe  | September 8, 2009; 11:26 AM ET
Categories:  Congress  
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