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Needham Democrat has eye on Lynch seat

Supporters gather signatures for Wu

By Jason Woods
Globe Correspondent / March 23, 2010

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Spurred by US Representative Stephen Lynch’s opposition to the sweeping health care bill passed by the House this week, a group of Democrats is rounding up signatures for a Needham woman to challenge Lynch in the September primary.

Supporters said the grass-roots effort to “draft Harmony Wu’’ for Lynch’s seat began over the weekend, after the South Boston Democrat said he would vote against the largest expansion of health care coverage in four decades.

Wu, a Needham Town Meeting member and active volunteer for Obama’s presidential campaign, said she took out papers for the Ninth Congressional District seat Friday but has not decided if she will run.

“I am seriously considering this,’’ Wu, 38, said yesterday. “It doesn’t take me by surprise that there are many people who are concerned about not being represented by Mr. Lynch and wanting something different.’’

Lynch was one of 34 Democrats and the only member of the Massachusetts delegation who voted Sunday against the overall health care bill.

He then cast an aye in support of a bill including compromise changes that is going to the Senate.

Lynch, who is in his fifth term, said last week he opposed the package because it did not put enough pressure on insurance companies to reduce costs.

He did not return calls for comment yesterday.

“This is an absolutely mystifying vote,’’ Wu said. “The whole Massachusetts delegation supported it. I know Ted Kennedy would have voted for this bill, then worked the next day to move mountains and start making it better.’’

Wu’s supporters sent groups over the weekend to Needham, Medfield, and South Boston to collect signatures for Wu’s potential run.

The district includes communities in Bristol, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Plymouth counties.

“It’s absolutely a grass-roots movement,’’ said Sarah Compton, one of the organizers. “There are hard-working activists who got to know Harmony during the Obama campaign and have continued to work with her.’’

Wu said she is deciding whether to run.

“I have 6-year-old twins, and my husband went out of town the day I pulled papers, so there is a lot of thinking to do,’’ she said.

“I’m just a mom in Needham, and I’m trying not to put my foot in my mouth,’’ Wu said. “But Mr. Lynch and other Democrats who are not working for progressive values really need to look hard and see what it is they’re working for.’’

Jason Woods can be reached at jwoods@globe.com.