Will the next Democratic Senator from Massachusetts be a pro-life, Iraq War-supporting, ObamaCare-fighting Congressman who once opposed an assault weapons ban and gay rights?
That's what seven-term Democratic Massachusetts Congressman Stephen Lynch is hoping as he reportedly prepares to announce his candidacy on Thursday.
Lynch is betting that his social conservatism — far to the right of his toughest likely primary opponent, Congressman Ed Markey — will win over moderate Democrats in the state. But as the member routinely identified as the most socially conservative of the Massachusetts delegation (including former Republican Senator Scott Brown) he could have trouble even winning in a statewide general election, let alone a Democratic primary.
Lynch voted to ban partial-birth abortion along with his solid pro-life voting record, and says of ObamaCare on his website it says "he believes that the health care reform law, passed in 2010, is critically flawed in that it does very little to reform the current fee for service system." Lynch reiterates his support as well for "true health care reform."
"Coming off this epic 2012 election where reproductive rights were a prominent issue, that could hurt him. That's one thing Markey's going to highlight in this primary," said Mary Anne Marsh, a Democratic strategist in Massachusetts, who added, "He's conservative for Massachusetts, but for the state senate, state rep, and Congressional districts he's run in, he's not."
Lynch voted to authorize the war in Iraq in 2003 and was the only member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts to vote in favor of a 2006 Republican resolution opposing a timeline for the withdrawal or redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq.
He has also flip-flopped from his past opposition to an assault weapons ban. He now says he "fully supports President Obama's reasonable gun control recommendations," including re-instituting "limits on military-type assault weapons, high capacity magazines and armor piercing bullets while we expand and improve background checks."
But while a member of the Massachusetts state legislature Lynch voted against an assault weapons ban saying "let's not get sidetracked by feel-good legislation."
Lynch has been noted for his turn around on gay-rights. He opposed partner benefits and hate crimes legislation sponsored by gay-rights groups while a state Senator.
When Lynch first ran for office in 1994 and was successfully elected to the Massachusetts House he challenged his opponent that year as "the conservative candidate."
Lynch hit his opponent for supporting the request of a gay and lesbian group to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Boston saying it showed "a lack of leadership from the office of the state representative" according to local news reports.
Lynch added his opponent support them because he "was reluctant to incur criticism from the liberal media."
Despite his center-right record, Marsh said many in Boston consider him a real contender.
"Never underestimate Lynch. He's won every race he's ever been in," she said.
A spokesman for Markey's campaign did not return a request for comment on Lynch's conservative positions.
Rosie Gray contributed to this report.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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