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Add to list of 'could be' governors: Rep. Lynch

Questions are being raised about whether US Representative Stephen F. Lynch is testing the waters for a possible run for governor in Massachusetts.

In an interview broadcast on CBS4 on Friday, Lynch, a Democrat, told political analyst Jon Keller that ''the very thing that this Commonwealth needs is a strong governor, someone who's committed to staying here, someone who's going to say no to the Legislature when it's necessary and work with them when it's possible."

''That might be you?" Keller said.

''It could be, it could be," Lynch replied.

In an interview with the Globe yesterday, though, Lynch said the clip the station broadcast cut off the rest of what he said -- that he ''didn't see how" he could leave Capitol Hill now.

''I said it would be a wonderful honor for me to pursue this, but right now . . . we're in a war in Afghanistan, we're in a war in Iraq, we've got a big challenge on the issue of Social Security," he said. ''I just don't see how I could possibly extricate myself from those fights in order to run for governor."

Asked whether that meant he would not run, Lynch said, ''I don't see how it would be possible, given my current position."

So he has definitely ruled it out?

''I'm just staying on message, if you don't mind," he said.

Eager to take back the corner office after nearly 15 years, several Democrats have already announced their intention to run or at least floated the idea. Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly and former US assistant attorney general Deval Patrick have made it official. Secretary of State William F. Galvin also is considering joining the race, and earlier this month, US Representative Michael E. Capuano said he is also weighing a run.

A Patrick spokesman said the candidate wishes Lynch well if he decides to run, but declined to comment further.

''Deval is up on the North Shore today talking to almost 200 people about the important issues facing Massachusetts -- health care, education, and how we bring the jobs of the future to Massachusetts and keep them," said spokesman Kahlil Byrd. ''He spends his time talking to voters, not about other candidates."

In a statement, the Reilly campaign said the attorney general ''knows that these are very personal decisions which require long and hard thought," and that he ''enjoys a strong personal and professional relationship with the congressman."

Lynch, who was elected in 2001 and lives in South Boston, stands out among the state's top Democrats for his relative conservatism on some social issues. He has opposed abortion rights, was the only member of the Massachusetts delegation who voted for a bill intended to lead to the reinsertion of Terry Schiavo's feeding tube this spring, and was one of three Massachusetts House members who supported the Iraq war resolution in 2002.

James M. Glaser, a political science professor at Tufts University, said that Lynch would have a hard time beating a more liberal candidate in a one-on-one contest, but in a more crowded field, several candidates could split the liberal vote, offering Lynch a chance to make off with a plurality.

''The more people in the race, the more likely he would be to join because his chances go up," he said.

Lisa Wangsness can be reached at lwangsness@globe.com.

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