Bill Lynch, who helped get David Dinkins elected as the first black mayor of New York City, died yesterday at age 72 from complications of kidney disease.
Lynch was known as the "rumpled genius" behind Dinkins' victory and other campaigns, and Dinkins said that he "had a genius for connecting people of common interests and goals, and for the political game and behind-the-scenes strategy. ... He was a dear friend and I will miss him dearly."
Mr. Lynch masterminded Mr. Dinkins’s campaigns for Manhattan borough president and mayor and was, as deputy mayor for intergovernmental relations, his closest adviser.
He was instrumental in bringing the Democratic National Convention to New York in 1992, ran Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in the state that year and later became a vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
In recent years, with diabetes and a kidney transplanted from his son, William Lynch III, a political consultant, Mr. Lynch faded from public view. But he remained engaged in the political process on the periphery as a consultant for labor unions, corporations and candidates, including the mayoral campaigns of Fernando Ferrer in 2001 and 2005 and Comptroller John C. Liu this year, and H. Carl McCall’s campaign for governor in 2002.
Liu said, "I would not be where nor who I am today without Bill Lynch," and his campaign issued the statement, "Bill Lynch is a true friend and mentor to generations of mentors, leaders and trailblazers, organizers and activists. To our Team Liu Family, Uncle Bill is the patriarch. To the world, he is the humble genius, an architect of rainbow coalitions with the ability to move mountains. His lifetime of work is the force that continues to raise tides and lifts all ships."
Liu also cancelled his public events last night. Lynch had issued a statement earlier in the week for Liu, regarding the Campaign Finance Board's decision to deny him matching funds, "We are disappointed with the reported recommendation issued by the CFB’s staff, but we hope the Board does the right thing — not only for this campaign, but for the thousands of New Yorkers who deserve to have their political contributions matched, as they expected."
Lynch, who was born in Mattituck, Long Island and was the son of a potato farmer, was criticized for how the Dinkins administration and NYPD handled the 1991 Crown Heights riot, which was prompted by a black child being killed by a driver in Menachem Mendel Schneerson's sect and resulted in the fatal stabbing of an Orthodox Jew visiting from Australia. Lynch said, "My position was always, whether that was good or bad, was that we worked different sides of the street."
The Clintons said, "Bill Lynch had a heart even bigger than the city he served. Whether he was fighting for working families at AFSCME or running political campaigns or working in City Hall, Bill always put people first. He was a friend to both of us over many years. We admired his integrity and his generosity, including his support for scores of community and philanthropic organizations. .... New York has lost a champion and they have lost a loving husband and a devoted father."