By Jim Smith
BOSTON — Former Boston Mayor and U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Flynn faces an uncertain future after last week’s second-place showing in the 8th Congressional District primary.
Flynn, who’s 59, was defeated by five-term Somerville Mayor Michael Capuano, who is described by some as a younger, Italian-American version of Flynn. As an incumbent mayor, Capuano, 46, was able to draw upon a strong base of political support in garnering 23 percent of the vote to Flynn’s 18 percent.
Flynn began his final campaign day last Tuesday with a 5:30 a.m. eight-mile jog through East Boston. By late afternoon, he was greeting well-wishers on the streets of rain-swept Roxbury, a predominantly African-American community where the former mayor’s reputation as a proponent of social justice for minorities is firmly established.
A group of about 200 supporters gathered at a rented hall in Watertown Tuesday evening, anticipating a long night of vote-tallying in the 10-candidate race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy. Pundits and supporters expected that the close race would not be decided until around 11 p.m. or later.
To the surprise of many in the audience, including some family members, a subdued Flynn came onto the stage shortly after 10 p.m. to announce defeat. He thanked his stunned and somber supporters, embraced his wife and children, and congratulated Capuano.
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Flynn told the Echo that his candidacy was hurt by a lack of money and his absence from the political scene over the last five years. "When the economy is strong, people aren’t interested in hearing about social and economic justice," he said, referring to issues that have carried him to victories in earlier campaigns.
Flynn said that the political climate today is far different from what it was not too long ago.
"There’s a lack of energy and enthusiasm around, and the media’s going after sensational stories," he said. "There’s a tremendous amount of cynicism, and the media is tearing the government down in this country."
Flynn himself was the target of a barrage of negative media attention during the past year, most notably in the Boston Globe, which criticized his drinking habits last year and pounded away at his anti-abortion views in the months leading up to the election.
George Bachrach, who had been endorsed by the Globe, came in third place, behind Capuano and Flynn.
Although Flynn will likely be offered positions in state government, he said that he is now taking a look at opportunities in the private sector.