WBUR

A Look At Democrats Eyeing Sen. Kerry’s Seat

Rep. Ed Markey is the only candidate to formally announce his intention to run for Sen. John Kerry's seat, should Kerry be confirmed as secretary of state. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Ed Markey is the only candidate to formally announce his intention to run for Sen. John Kerry’s seat, should Kerry be confirmed as secretary of state. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

WASHINGTON — Outgoing Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown hasn’t yet said whether he will run for John Kerry’s Senate seat if Kerry is confirmed as the next secretary of state, but he is already taking a jab a potential Democratic rival.

On Wednesday, Brown questioned how much time Democratic Rep. Ed Markey — the only candidate to formally announce he will run for Kerry’s seat — spends in Massachusetts, asking, “Does he even live here?”

A Markey spokesman responded by calling it a false personal attack, saying Markey is a lifelong resident of Malden.

WBUR’s political reporter Fred Thys joined Morning Edition host Bob Oakes from Washington, D.C., to take a look at Markey and other possible Democratic nominees for Kerry’s seat.

On Rep. Ed Markey:

Kerry all but endorsed Markey, he said he couldn’t actually come out and endorse him but he expressed his support for him. Vicki Kennedy did endorse him and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has pretty much endorsed Markey. I’m told that this happened because Democrats in Washington wanted to make sure that Kerry’s seat stays Democratic, and they see Markey as the safest bet because of the three congressmen that have expressed interest in running, he has the most money in his campaign account; he has more than $3 million.

But the endorsements really kind of backfired because one of the other congressmen interested in running, Michael Capuano of Somerville, pretty much stepped on the endorsements when he put out a statement saying: “It seems that the big names of our party are trying to choose our nominee for us.”

On Rep. Michael Capuano:

Capuano is the favorite of many people in the labor movement. I’ve been told that labor unions would get behind Markey, but some labor leaders were disappointed that Washington Democrats lined up so quickly behind Markey and they’re encouraged that Capuano is indicating that he’s not going to be intimidated out of running.

Labor was a big factor behind Elizabeth Warren’s victory, they got behind her enthusiastically, and her swearing in Thursday morning as well as a reception Thursday night are expected to foster some conversations about how labor should proceed in the race to fill Kerry’s seat.

Capuano’s failed primary bid for the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat is cause for concern among some Democrats, but it depends which Democrats you talk to. Down in Washington they’re concerned that he doesn’t have enough money to make it, he has slightly less than $500,000 in the bank. But back in Massachusetts people really like Capuano and basically they want an open primary.

On Rep. Stephen Lynch:

Lynch is considering a run but there is concern within labor that because he opposes abortion and voted against the Affordable Care Act he would scare away some liberal Democratic voters, and that those voters might end up voting for a moderate Republican instead, such as Brown or former Gov. William Weld.

On state Sen. Ben Downing, of Pittsfield:

We could hear an announcement on his decision to run or not as early as Thursday or Friday.

On where Gov. Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Democratic Party stands:

They pretty much would like to see an open primary. I spoke to Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair John Walsh about this and he very much likes open primaries. The governor has come out and said he is going to wait until the primary before he makes a decision.

I think one thing we might want to take a look at is who are the people who have the grassroots networks here in Massachusetts. And it’s not Kerry, it’s not Vicki Kennedy, it’s not the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It’s Patrick, the Massachusetts Democratic Party and Warren, although I’m not sure where Warren is in all of this. And of course there’s Joseph Kennedy III, who just ran a very successful election. Those folks are all staying out of it for now. It looks like money could play a big role though because it’s such a tight race, so whoever has the most money may have an advantage going into this.

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  • FrancisMcManus

    I think Ed Markey would make a fine candidate for US Senate but I also think the Massachusetts Special Election law must be fixed to make it more democratic and to increase participation in picking our US Senators when we hold special elections to choose them.

    These two seats are important for MA and important in the country at large. Out current law aims at getting a selected official in the seat quickly rather than with maximum democratic participation.

    A 160-day maximum campaign is too short to have both a vigorous primary and an extended debate between the D and R candidate, both of which seem crucial to an effective evaluative process in my opinion. The brevity of the primary helps make the case for Washington Dems to pick the favored candidate. The brevity of the the campaign that follows minimizes public engagement and thorough evaluation.

    To maximize participation in the actual election, it should be scheduled on Election Day, not some Tuesday 160 days after the campaign starts.

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