By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Congressman Stephen Lynch used his Senate campaign announcement day Thursday to lay out what he hopes the themes of his race against fellow Congressman Ed Markey will be: populist vs. elitist, working-class vs. ruling class, independent thinker vs. rote party operative.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Lynch says Markey is an example of what happens when people are in Congress for so long they become “insulated” from the reality of what their constituents are going through. He says the Republicans may be off the deep end, but the Democrats are also prone to selling out the best interests of working people.

And he points to the effort by Democratic Party elites to give Markey a clear path to the Senate seat as a prime example of how out-of-touch and arrogant they, and, presumably, their pet, have become.

That is Lynch’s spin, anyway, and Markey will have his day to rebut it on Saturday.

But what happens after that will be a serious indicator of whether or not the notorious independent streak within the Massachusetts electorate still lives.

Among the many reasons why Elizabeth Warren beat Scott Brown was his inability to revive the “independent outsider” appeal he had against Martha Coakley. This time, Brown was the incumbent, carrying the baggage of his party’s dysfunction, and she was the outsider, whipping up a partisan wave that carried her home.

Lynch’s decade in the House may disqualify him from the “outsider” label. But it’ll be hard to paint him as a Republican in disguise; he votes with his party 90-percent of the time, compared with 91.3-percent of the time for Markey.

Lynch has a record to pick over, and will run the same gauntlet as Markey.

But the result may come down to this: are there enough Democratic primary voters still willing to ignore party leaders and party orthodoxy to vote in someone willing to ignore the party line and challenge elite orthodoxy?

Or not?

And if not, what does that mean for the future of Massachusetts?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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