In response to last week’s report regarding a momentum swing in the Second Suffolk District race for his opponent, Rep. Dan Ryan responded by saying he could paraphrase Mark Twain’s ‘The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated!’
However, those that follow local politics in and around the Second Suffolk District know what Ryan and his team are capable of pulling off when the electoral chips seemed stacked against them. As the paper reported last week, Ryan’s opponent in his race for re-election showed signs of momentum in an attempt to dislodge the popular incumbent. His challenger’s camp touted nearly $60,000 in regional and national donations as evidence that this insurgency was more part of a national movement than it was a local election. This, along with regional endorsements from statewide Progressive and Socialist groups, along with elected officials from around the Commonwealth.
Ryan, on the other hand, took a page from former US House Speaker Tip O’Neil’s mantra, “All Politics is Local.”
This past Tuesday, where Boston allows one day of early voting in each neighborhood, was an opportunity for the Ryan camp to test run their local vote pulling efforts in Charlestown. And that they did; with the typical campaign tools of providing rides to the polls, door knocking and vote pulling with old fashioned shoe leather. This was done amidst a throng of local supporters holding signs while building enthusiasm. The energized atmosphere made it seem more like Bunker Hill Day than Election Day, Ryan said.
As the first elected official from Charlestown to win a seat at any level in 37 years, Ryan and his team, displayed the coalition that he has built up over his many years of public, non-profit and volunteer service throughout Chelsea and Charlestown.
“We knocked doors in four languages,” said Ryan. “This wasn’t done through any statewide coalition of activists. I walked my own neighborhood with kids who grew up here, kids I coached, kids my son and daughters know from school and playing sports. They come from different backgrounds and are more economically and racially diverse than the Charlestown I grew up in. Like in the ‘Welcome Back Cotter’ theme song, ‘The names have changed since we hung around but those dreams have remained and they’ve turned around.”
He continued, “I represent two of the greatest communities in Massachusetts. Both Chelsea and Charlestown have deep roots but also attract people from the world over. With that you get a diversity of opinions and issues to work on. I build coalitions. That’s what I do. That’s what was on display this week.”
That laser focus on his district was evident in Chelsea as well. Ryan walked the streets of Chelsea with City Councilors Leo Robinson and Cal Brown to talk to voters. Council President Roy Avellaneda also announced his support of Ryan this week. These local endorsements are added to the early announcements of support from Attorney General Maura Healey, who lives in the district and Boston Councilor Lydia Edwards, who represents Charlestown. The Ryan Team also displayed Chelsea support during a mid-week visibility with over 25 residents in attendance to hold signs and spread the Election Day message. There were also small gatherings in backyards and local restaurants to discuss issues with voters. Of course, all these activities took on a socially distant COVID-19 reality in their orchestration.
“These are definitely trying times. In the end, I think experience matters,” Ryan emphasized. “We may be wearing masks and are not allowed to congregate in large groups. But, really, it is still all about knowing your district and the people in it. That is how you deliver good government and that is how you win elections. I think on September 1 the voters will show that my team has been able to do both really well. We are just getting started.”