State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, the second Haitian-American elected to public office in Massachusetts and the only one still at the State House, is making a bid for the upper chamber. If elected, Dorcena Forry would be the Bay State’s first Haitian-American state senator.
Rep. Forry is part of a field of candidates aiming to replace former state Sen. Jack Hart, who left for a job at Nelson Mullins, a top law firm. State Rep. Nick Collins, a colleague in the House, is also running, as is fellow South Boston native Maureen Dahill. All are Democrats, and a Republican, Joseph Ureneck, has pulled nomination papers.
The heavily Democratic district will likely mean that the April 30 Democratic primary will determine the eventual occupant of the First Suffolk Senate seat. The general election is set for May 28.
Dorcena Forry is the daughter of Haitian immigrants who live in Uphams Corner. She is married to Reporter publisher and editor Bill Forry of Lower Mills.
Fundraising and endorsements will be keys to the race, and the added wrinkle of having a contemporaneous US Senate special election that has Congressman Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, on the ballot will no doubt make for an interesting campaign.
The calendar also features St. Patrick’s Day in mid-March, with the parade in South Boston and the political breakfast at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, traditionally overseen by the holder of the First Suffolk Senate seat.
South Boston Democrats have held the post for decades, going back to Joe Moakley, Bill Bulger, Stephen Lynch, and Hart. But due to redistricting efforts – lawmakers redrawing political boundaries after US Census figures are released every ten years – the seat has become a district that includes a significant chunk of Dorchester, along with South Boston, Mattapan, and Hyde Park, which many see as giving a Dorchester candidate an edge.
Rep. Forry tapped Cayce McCabe as her campaign manager for the 11-week sprint to the primary.
McCabe was the campaign manager for Suzanne Lee, a former school principal who challenged South Boston Councillor Bill Linehan in 2011 and came up short by less than 100 votes. He also worked on Concord Democrat Joseph Goodwin’s unsuccessful run for state Senate last year.
Collins’s campaign manager is Jay O’Brien, who worked for Cambridge Democrat Elizabeth Warren during her winning US Senate campaign.
In mid-February, unions started to wade into the special state Senate election, with two locals announcing the candidates they intended to back: Carpenters Local 67 said that they are endorsing Rep. Forry while Laborers Local 223 is endorsing Rep. Nick Collins.
“We’ve got a much longer history of working with Linda,” said Chris Shannon, council representative for Carpenters Local 67 and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. The local endorsed Forry when she ran for 12th Suffolk state representative in 2005, he said.
Laborers Local 223 endorsed Collins when he ran for Fourth Suffolk state representative in 2010. “He has fought every day for us and for the working people of his district,” Martin Walsh, the business manager for Local 223, said in a statement earlier this week. “There is no one in this race we’d rather support than Nick.”
Walsh is the cousin of state Rep. Marty Walsh, a Dorchester Democrat who says he is staying neutral in the race.