Remembering Dotty Lynch

photo credit: American University

photo credit: American University

Most political friendships are episodic. Usually begun during the intensity of a campaign, they are sustained by common values and common interests and political intersections. That was the nature of my friendship with Dotty Lynch. We met decades ago when we were on opposite sides – she for Gary Hart, I for Walter Mondale. It was a time when there were few women trolling for votes in early primary states and a time when opposing staffers chatted, complained and dined together. We were young and ambitious and provided encouragement to each other, which the guys around us rarely did.

Dotty had worked for the DNC and went on to work at CBS for twenty years. I gambolled about in a variety of campaigns and started a business. We would connect over questions we had about what we were doing and about our lives. We seemed to start our conversations as if they were extensions of the last ones, even though years may have intervened between them.

Dotty had a particular knack for coming back into my life when I needed her. I wanted to be a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School Institute of Politics. She poked around and discovered the hesitation surrounding my candidacy. We plotted together, she kept her ear to the ground, I asked Bill Bradley to place a call and, lo and behold, I became a Fellow in 2009.

Dotty came roaring back into my life this year. She was just about the first person I heard from after starting GenderAvenger. She had terrific advice, she was determined that it succeed, she made it an assignment (sadly, the last) for her American University research class. We reviewed the students’ work in preparation for our own survey. We talked about the GenderAvenger survey just days before she went into the hospital. On the day she entered the hospital, Dotty asked a university colleague to work with us to make sure we got it right.

Dotty Lynch was the first woman to start her own polling firm, she pioneered the understanding of the women’s vote, and provided analysis and gave advice to celebrated television commentators. And, always, she was a faithful friend. Throughout her life in everything she did, Dotty showed us all what it means to be a GenderAvenger.

Some day we will do a poll – or maybe we will do annual polls — to show how important it is for women to be part of the public dialog and they will be dedicated to Dotty Lynch.

We miss her.