PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Bill Lynch is back.
The former longtime Rhode Island Democratic Party chairman, who served in that role for 12 years before resigning to make an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2010, has rejoined the party as an unpaid senior adviser for the duration of the fall election campaign, party officials announced Thursday.
“Lynch will provide legal and political input on breaking issues, and serve as an expert resource to the congressional and endorsed state candidates for office,” they said in a news release.
The current state party chairman, state Rep. Joe McNamara, said he welcomed the additional support.
“With Bill serving as special adviser, he will provide the extra eyes and ears on the campaigns to ultimately protect the integrity of our elections and the voters’ intent,” McNamara said. “He will also be able to respond to legal and media issues that might arise in the days and months ahead.”
Lynch’s hiring is another sign that House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and his allies, who control the official Democratic Party apparatus in Rhode Island, are taking little for granted politically this year despite the state’s strong Democratic lean, particularly in presidential years. Local Republicans are already making a spirited effort to defeat Mattiello in his Cranston district in November.
McNamara has been wearing two hats since becoming party chairman last year, because he’s also a sitting lawmaker and one of Mattiello’s legislative committee chairmen. Lynch’s hiring will take some of the pressure off McNamara to serve as the state’s most prominent spokesman for state-level Democrats, who’ve been hit by two damaging scandals involving sitting legislators in recent months.
In an interview, Lynch said he’s regularly run into Mattiello, Governor Raimondo, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed and other Democratic leaders in the years since he stepped down as chairman and has always offered to help the party in any way he can, though he wanted to make sure he didn’t step on his successor’s toes.
“When I was chairman I was never accused of being shy about getting involved publicly in discussing issues and things, particularly when I think things are being misrepresented by the Republican Party right here in the state, and I have seen a number of occasions where I thought there was a role for that,” he said.
Lynch said he was particularly interested in serving as an ally to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, but also wants to be helpful in state-level races.
“Up until now I’ve stayed in the background,” he said. “This may result in me being more actively involved. I’d like to get involved in some of the campaign planning and strategies, just having done that.” He also said he’s “happy to do some of the public responses” to Republican criticisms of the Democrats.
Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Brandon Bell responded to Lynch’s hiring on Twitter:
Lynch is a lawyer who works for the law firm Lynch & Pine, co-founded with former Republican Attorney General Jeffrey Pine. He comes from a prominent Pawtucket political family as the son of late former mayor Dennis Lynch and the brother of Patrick Lynch, the former attorney general.