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Union aide aims to run for Lynch’s House seat

Mac D’Alessandro said he hopes to be a strong voice for families. Mac D’Alessandro said he hopes to be a strong voice for families.
By Emma Stickgold
Globe Correspondent / April 19, 2010

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US Representative Stephen F. Lynch could be facing a challenge, with the announcement by the regional political director of the service workers’ union SEIU of his intention to run for the South Boston Democrat’s seat.

Mac D’Alessandro, who may give liberal Democrats who are frustrated with Lynch’s more conservative leanings a candidate to rally around, has only until May 4 to obtain the 2,000 signatures he needs for his name to appear on the ballot.

A Facebook page and several Tweets sprouted up yesterday supporting D’Alessandro’s intention to run against Lynch.

After Lynch cast the Massachusetts congressional delegation’s lone vote against President Obama’s health care plan, many within the district called for a more progressive voice to surface. One group tried to recruit Needham activist Harmony Wu to run, but she ultimately decided against it, citing family considerations.

D’Alessandro, who has worked for the Service Employees International Union for nine years, downplayed the role that Lynch’s health care vote played in his decision to jump into the race, saying instead that he wants to bring a different voice to Capitol Hill.

“This is a personal decision for me, as a constituent, as someone who has progressive values,’’ he said. “This isn’t part of me being recruited, no, this is my wanting a stronger voice for the district, for my family and the other families.’’

Asked if he would have voted in favor of Obama’s health care reform bill, he said, “Absolutely.’’

“I’m going to be on the side of consumers and workers, and not on the side of health insurance companies and big banks,’’ he said.

But for now, he said, he is focused on getting on the ballot. “We’ll have more to say once we do that,’’ he said.

State Democratic Party chairman John Walsh welcomed the announcement of a potential new candidate for the state’s Ninth Congressional District, which includes parts of Boston and extends south of the city into Norfolk, Plymouth, and Bristol counties.

“I think it’s a sign of a healthy party that there’s a discussion and a debate,’’ Walsh said.

Lynch, who could not be reached for comment last night, won his first primary for the seat in a special election held Sept. 11, 2001, following the death of John Joseph Moakley, who had held the seat since 1973.

Republican Keith Lepor and Philip Dunkelbarger, an independent, whom Lynch defeated in the 2006 Democratic primary, have announced they will challenge Lynch in November.

D’Alessandro grew up in Chicago and moved to the Boston area to attend Boston College Law School, hoping to become an environmental lawyer. He got caught up in working for political campaigns, however, including that of former Massachusetts attorney general Scott Harshbarger, before taking a job at Greater Boston Legal Services. He landed the SEIU job in 2001 and has been there since.

“I’ve never been a congressman; all I can tell people is what I believe in and what I will fight for. I’ve got a career of fighting on behalf of working families and the middle class, and I want to take that to Washington, D.C.,’’ he said.

The race, Walsh said, would be an “uphill fight’’ for D’Alessandro, but the outcome is far from a foregone conclusion.

“Steve Lynch is a regular and consistent presence in the district, and I know he’s got his fingers on the pulse, but it’s one of those years where you never know,’’ Walsh said.

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