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Mass. Dem fends off union challenge

From Msnbc.com's Tom Curry
Rep. Stephen Lynch, D- Mass., one of the 34 House Democrats to vote against President Obama’s health care bill, fended off a primary challenge from disgruntled progressives Tuesday night by defeating Mac D’Alessandro, a union activist on leave from his job as the New England political director for the Services Employees International Union (SEIU).

With 87 percent of precincts reporting, Lynch had 65 percent of the vote.

Since the beginning of August, SEIU had spent nearly $260,000 in independent expenditures to boost D’Alessandro.

Lynch’s victory was another defeat for the labor-progressive coalition which had mounted a $6 million effort to defeat Sen. Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas in June. Lincoln defeated Bill Halter in a June 8 runoff.

“Mac D’Alessandro may have come up short in his campaign but his impressive result proves that when you stand up for your beliefs you will never stand alone,” SEIU Massachusetts State Council President Mike Grunko said in a statement.

Lynch opposed the final version of the health care bill because it omitted a public insurance option and, in his view, allowed insurance companies to remain too powerful.

Elected in 2001 and himself a former ironworkers’ union local president, Lynch proved to be resilient. His TV ads avoided the health care vote and emphasized his blue-collar roots and his vote against the Wall Street bailout.

Lynch enjoyed the fund-raising advantage of incumbency. As of the end of August his campaign spent nearly $1 million, a nine-to-one advantage of D’Alessandro’s campaign.

In addition to attacking Lynch’s ‘no’ vote on the health care bill, D’Alessandro also assailed Lynch’s support for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.