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Support From Labor Unions Could Be Key In Lynch, Markey U.S. Senate Primary Race

BOSTON (CBS) - As a former iron worker and union local president, it's clear why Congressman Stephen Lynch is relying on labor support in his battle with Congressman Ed Markey for U.S. Senate.

The latest Lynch television ad underscores both its importance and the struggle he has faced to lock up the labor vote.

The word "union" is never mentioned in the ad, but it's just the latest sign of how heavily Lynch's path to victory relies on support from organized labor.

Lynch has not passed up a chance to compare his blue-collar cred with Markey's as seen at the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Breakfast.

Lynch said the special election will be historic regardless of who wins the Democrat primary.

"I will either be the first iron worker elected to the U.S. Senate or Ed Markey will be the first ice cream driver elected to the U.S. Senate," Lynch said, referring to Markey's references to his working class background that included a stint as an ice cream truck driver.

But Lynch's drive to unite labor behind him has hit a few roadblocks.

The powerful service employees union endorsed Markey after hearing them both out.

While Lynch is mopping up with the building trades, Markey has won crucial backing from the likes of the Service Employees International Union and the Mass. Teachers Association.

Local chapter of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Chief Steve Tolman says that shows how Markey can slow Lynch's labor bandwagon.

"Clearly he wasn't entrenched with our movement, he wasn't entrenched, there's no doubt about that, because he was an environmentalist and into more national things, but his votes were there supporting working people's issues," Toleman said.

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