Besides politics, Larry Rasky had a great passion for the Boston Red Sox, particularly the 2004 team that overcame immense odds to win the World Series. | Elise Amendola/AP Photo
Updated: 03/23/2020 12:23 AM EDT
It was just after Super Tuesday, and Joe Biden had just pulled off the seemingly impossible, transforming a near-dead campaign to romp across 14 states.
Watching his old boss’ moribund campaign roar back to life as the returns rolled in, Biden’s longtime friend and confidant Larry Rasky picked up the phone and laughed before he even started speaking.
“I’ve worked for Joe Biden for 30 years,” Rasky said in an interview with POLITICO then. “Seven days ago we won our first primary. Seven days later, he’s the presumptive Democratic nominee. There never has been anything like it.”
Rasky called it one of the greatest feats he’d seen in his lifetime. But he won’t get to see how the story ends.
On Sunday, he died suddenly at the age of 69, the cause undetermined. He is survived by his wife Carolyn and son Will.
Larry Rasky. | Rasky Partners
A legend in Boston political circles, Rasky worked on political campaigns for decades, employed by a roster of politicians ranging from former President Jimmy Carter to John Kerry to former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn. Rasky had worked on both of Biden’s previous presidential bids and most recently served as treasurer on a pro-Biden super PAC, Unite the Country.
“Larry was Boston through and through,” Biden said in a statement Sunday. “Outspoken — as anyone who sought his counsel can attest — but also gregarious, sharp and generous in spirit.”
While attending Emerson College, Rasky worked as a security guard in a building where Carter’s Massachusetts headquarters set up shop, Biden said. Four years later, Rasky served as deputy press secretary for Carter’s reelection campaign.
In an interview Sunday, former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, who later served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, said when he first flirted with running for mayor in 1984, he struck up a conversation with Rasky, whom he admired but didn’t think he could afford. Down in the polls, with little money to pose a serious threat to anyone, Flynn said Rasky joined the campaign anyway, holding up Flynn’s work on homelessness and with special needs children while he served in the statehouse. Rasky also plotted where the against-the-odds campaign would launch: in one of the poorest parts of the city.
“I’m starting my campaign as the underdog, 17 points down with three months to go,” Flynn recalled. “Here we’re doing it in a West Broadway housing development with poor people and where nobody votes.”
Flynn’s message of fighting for those left behind resonated; his victory was so stunning he and Rasky couldn’t believe the returns when they came in. Flynn went on to serve as mayor until 1993
It was just one of dozens of stories that old friends and politicos shared on Sunday after learning of Rasky’s death.
By MARC CAPUTO
“Larry was real,” said Harry Grill, political campaigns director for Unite Here, a labor union representing culinary and hotel workers, who knew Rasky for 45 years. “What you saw was what you got. If he called you his friend, you were a friend for life. He loved life and loved people. He treated everyone from all walks of life with dignity and respect. He will be sorely missed.”
Rasky served as chairman of his Boston-based Rasky Partners, where his son, Will still works.
“He loved and was loved by so many. He always treated the company like a family and we are all shocked and saddened by the news of his passing,” a statement from the firm said. “He has left an indelible imprint on everyone he touched and the company that bears his name will go on in his spirit.”
While Rasky didn’t see the full arc of Biden’s political campaign come to a conclusion, those close to him said there was some comfort in knowing he witnessed the political turnaround.
Rasky himself said Biden’s comeback was rivaled by only one other feat he’d experienced in his lifetime: the 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series win. Rasky worked for the Red Sox that year and he would often tell tales of the team’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees to clinch the American League pennant.
“I was literally driving home during one of the games and praying, and trying to talk to Babe Ruth in heaven,” Rasky said.
“We broke the curse of the Bambino, which haunted Boston since they sold Babe Ruth in 1919. Everyone in Boston thought it was divine intervention. I never thought I’d see anything like it again.”