Linda Dorcena Forry, a 39-year-old Haitian-American state representative from Dorchester, has apparently won the Democratic primary for the traditional “Southie seat’’ in the state Senate. The victory, albeit narrow, says volumes about the new political realities in Boston.
Dorcena Forry, an eight-year representative, could be seen in many ways as a perfect crossover candidate. She is married to an Irish-American publisher from a prominent Dorchester family. She always enjoyed strong support from suburban Milton voters who were part of her state House district. But she didn’t need suburbanites to carry her to victory this time. With this win, Dorcena Forry becomes the face of New Boston.
State Representative Nick Collins of South Boston worked extremely hard, reaching out to minority voters in Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park. He told the Globe in recent days that “the days of identity politics are over.’’ And he is right about that. But the exclamation mark after that statement will be placed after Dorcena Forry’s name, not his.
Former Senate President William Bulger, US Representative Stephen Lynch, and former state Senator Jack Hart all held this seat. All were sons of South Boston who had made their peace, to a larger or lesser degree, with some of the xenophobic traditions of the neighborhood. Those traits were on display most noticeably during the 1970s, when efforts to integrate schools in South Boston resulted in attacks on black students. The neighborhood has changed for the better since those days. But nothing would say change quite like the election of a Haitian-American woman to the “Southie seat.”
The majority of the state Senate district lies outside of South Boston. But Collins’s supporters felt comfortable that the powerhouse reputation of South Boston voters would see their candidate through. That would have been enough in the Old Boston. But not any longer.
Lawrence Harmon can be reached at email@example.com.