SPRINGFIELD — With the scent of bacon and eggs floating through the air, US Representative Stephen F. Lynch launched his campaign for US Senate by working the crowd this morning at a Springfield restaurant, emphasizing his blue-collar roots and taking jabs at his Democratic primary rival, US Representative Edward J. Markey.
“It will be an uphill fight for me, but the fight is worth fighting. Shame on us to allow someone to clear the field, box out all the other candidates, and buy the election,’’ said Lynch, in an apparent reference to Markey, who has already received a number of endorsements in the race to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the departure of John F. Kerry.
“There’s a disconnect in the United States Senate. It’s a private club. I could close the gap between what’s happening on Main Street in Springfield and what’s happening in Washington,’’ he said at O’Brien’s Corner, an eatery that owner Brian O’Brien described as “the Irish capital of Western Massachusetts.’’
Lynch’s campaign also released a video today talking about Lynch working as an ironworker for 18 years before being elected to the Legislature and to Congress. It said he was one of only two members of the state’s congressional delegation to vote against the federal bank bailout because he believed it did not do enough for Main Street. It also touted his opposition to privatizing Medicare and Social Security.
Markey issued a statement this afternoon, saying, “I welcome Stephen Lynch into the race for US Senate.’’ He said he urged Lynch to join him in a pledge to prevent special interest groups from injecting millions into the campaign.
“We need a senator who continues to stand up for the progressive values that John Kerry and Massachusetts believe in and who’s focused on creating the jobs our economy needs. That’s why I’m running for Senate,’’ Markey said in the statement.
The biggest event of Lynch’s tour of the state today was an afternoon kick-off rally at the Ironworkers Local 7 hall in South Boston, where several hundred union members cheered Lynch, a onetime president of the local.
Lynch said if voters send him to the Senate, he will not be part of the club. “I would not fit in in the United States Senate,’’ Lynch told the blue-collar crowd. “But neither would you!’’ he added, to loud applause.
Lynch said he grew up in the Old Colony public housing complex. He was one of six children of a mother who was a union postal worker and a father who was a union ironworker and World War II veteran. He recalled lean times in the 1970s and 1980s, when he was unable to find jobs as an ironworker. “I know what’s it’s like to stand in an unemployment line … that feeling of insecurity,’’ he said.
Markey and Lynch are so far the only candidates to declare their candidacies for the seat. Former US senator Scott Brown, a Republican, has not said whether he will run.
Asked if he was ready to face Brown in a general election, Lynch mocked the former senator’s famous pickup truck, saying, “I had a truck, too … but it was a work truck,’’ according to WBZ-AM.
Lynch was also asked in Springfield about his anti-abortion stance, an issue that could be prominent in the primary.
“That’s just a bumper sticker,’’ he told reporters. “In reality, my record is very common sense and very practical. … I never said repealing Roe v. Wade is a solution to anything. … I have advocated for funding for Planned Parenthood.’’
Lynch shook hands and sat down for one-on-one conversations with patrons at the restaurant. “I want to tell the people of Springfield that when I go to the United States Senate, they will be going to the US Senate,’’ he said.
Kathleen Murphy, a Democratic activist in the city, said at O’Brien’s that she hadn’t made up her mind yet who to vote for, but she welcomed the competition.
“I don’t like anyone being canonized for a job. I just don’t like that. … All I know is that he comes from humble beginnings, and I have a great respect for humble beginnings.’’
Elizabeth Tynan-Moriarty, who is also involved in Democratic politics in the city, said she supported Lynch because he believed in strong family values.
“We need to bring that back. And he’s here. How many politicians come out to Western Massachusetts?’’ she said.