(Politico) – It took a long ride through the night to get here. They’d started out in Durham, at 1 a.m., Thursday, driving six hours, all so the Rev. Lorenzo Lynch (83 on Tuesday) could sit in the back row of the visitors’ gallery above the U.S. Senate floor, his dapper yellow straw hat in his lap, and watch history — part of it his own personal history — unfold.
“I like this,” he said in his high whispery voice as senators ambled back and forth and chatted, seemingly oblivious of the import of the vote. “It shows the vigor of our system. In America, certain forces have led, and others have kicked back. Seven steps forward, three steps back. It started with slavery. There were good people then too. It’s still going on. We’re not done.”
Finally, at a little before 2 in the afternoon, it was over. By a surprisingly comfortable 56-43 vote, Lorenzo’s daughter, Loretta Lynch, was confirmed as the first black female attorney general. Lorenzo Lynch’s creased face and slightly sunken eyes registered no change as the tally was announced and a group of black congresswomen who had come to watch broke into furtive applause (which is not allowed in the Senate chamber). How did he feel? “Fine,” Lynch said. A pause, then a hint of a smile, and his always-ready humor. “The good guys won.”
Among the good guys, it turned out, were a few Republicans who jumped over to Lynch’s side at the last minute, including Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and even Mitch McConnell, the majority leader. But the Lynch supporters did not include Lorenzo and Loretta’s two home-state senators, Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, Republicans both, despite sometimes tearful personal pleading from Loretta Lynch supporters across the state. Burr, a pastor’s son from a progressive Presbyterian church in Winston-Salem, “should have known better,“ said Lorenzo Lynch.