Then there’s the issue of waterfront development: if you want it, you’re with Lynch. The chair of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, Gloria Larson, contributed $500 to Lynch. So did fellow MCCA board member Dean Stratouly, the president of Congress Group Ventures, a real-estate-development firm that completed the 33 Arch Street Tower downtown. No big surprise here, but it’s worth remembering that Lynch is state senator for the district where Menino and the state are constructing an $800 million convention center. Lynch, after all, signed off on the now-infamous linkage deal that — before Menino backed away from the agreement — enabled South Boston to glean the majority of community benefits paid to the city by developers. Though the linkage controversy has not yet emerged as an issue in the congressional race, city insiders know that Lynch has a long memory. Even if he loses the race for the Ninth, he’ll still be around as a state senator to harass would-be developers who didn’t support him in his bid for Congress — the race of his career. Developers know life will be worse for them if they don’t play ball than if they do.
Building on the waterfront is one thing, but even more important is the Old Towne Team. The election to replace Moakley comes as a flurry of suitors are seeking to purchase the Red Sox and, presumably, get plans for a new ballpark moving again — perhaps toward a site in Lynch’s back yard. In the first fundraising-report filing, the only potential buyer of the team to give money to Lynch was philanthropist David Mugar, who every year organizes the July Fourth fireworks and Pops concert on the Esplanade. Mugar donated $1000 to the Lynch campaign. Developer Frank McCourt, a long-time Lynch ally, is also lining up behind him, though he’s not yet listed as a donor. ( " He’s known Lynch a long time, " says McCourt spokesman Charles Kenney. " He’s been with him since day one and has worked with him on many things over the years. " ) McCourt has spent much of the summer making the case for a ballpark on the waterfront; he wants to leverage waterfront property that he already owns to become a partner in an effort to buy the team.
Skeptics can argue — and some do privately — that those interested in building a waterfront ballpark need not worry about Lynch; their main concern is Menino. Menino, obviously, is the key player in everything involving the city. Yet Lynch would still have an important role in city politics were he to win the Ninth District seat. Unlike many members of Congress, but like Moakley, Lynch believes in being a hands-on representative. That means that if elected, he would be on hand to help settle local disputes and, in some cases, make the final decision on local matters. Moakley, more than most congressmen, focused on local issues — creating out of whole cloth the new federal courthouse on the waterfront, weighing in on controversies when an arbiter was needed, and, in the end, cutting deals when they had to be made. If Lynch learned anything from Moakley, he knows how to be relevant even if he has to fly down to Washington every week.
Of course, the candidate’s support for Boston real-estate development is not the only reason the power elite is backing Lynch. Another reason is that, over the years, Lynch has quietly reached out to the city’s business leaders — partially in anticipation of running for lieutenant governor. He spoke to them in clubhouses and in restaurants where he could demonstrate that he was more than a former ironworker who had made good. It’s true that Lynch has cultivated a somewhat parochial, folksy persona as his public face, Exhibit A being the performance he gives each year as the host of the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast. But, supporters say, the private Lynch is more broad-minded, curious about the world and open to questions and suggestions. He’s the kind of guy, in short, whom business elites can talk to.
Take Gloria Larson — at first blush, an unlikely member of the downtown establishment. She’s a Republican, she’s a woman, and she never even lived in Boston before 1991, when Governor William Weld recruited her from the Bush administration. She’s not a graduate of Boston College and she’s not a member of any local " tribe. " But Larson represents the Boston establishment in a very real way. She is a key member of the city’s bipartisan business apparatus who wants the wheels of development to keep turning. This is the same establishment that has pushed for continued funding of the Big Dig despite every obstacle and embarrassment — i.e., the cost overruns that have pushed the price tag to more than $14.4 billion to date.