Support the news

A Fast-Changing Race To Fill Kennedy's Seat03:55

This article is more than 10 years old.

The Massachusetts Legislature is considering a proposal made by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy shortly before he died, which would allow Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint a successor to Kennedy until a special election is held in January. Meanwhile, the players keep changing in the race to win the election.

It's a fast-changing contest. One possible candidate is out of the running: former Congressman Marty Meehan says he will stay on at his job at chancellor at University of Massachusetts Lowell. With $4.8 million in his federal campaign account, Meehan would have been a formidable opponent.

"I was prepared to run a campaign and finance a campaign I believe I would have won," Meehan said. "For me, it's a question of my work at the university."

On the same day that Meehan announced he was not in the race, Congressman Michael Capuano took out nomination papers.

"I am almost at the point where I've made a final decision," Capuano said. "We'll make that final decision in the next couple of days, or no more than early next week. I'm still in the final phases of making a determination that this is a winnable race."

Capuano said he has not spoken to two other Democratic congressmen, John Tierney and Ed Markey, to see if just one of them should get in for a run. Their more conservative colleague, Congressman Stephen Lynch, has taken out nomination papers, and Attorney General Martha Coakley is already in the race.

Congressman Tierney's press secretary said Tuesday that "he is still considering" whether to get in.

Massachusetts has one senator now, and 10 representatives in the House. Only one, Niki Tsongas, is a woman. Women fund-raisers are scrambling to change that picture.

Coakley, the only woman in the Senate race, is in Washington meeting with Emily's List, a group that funds women candidates who support legalized abortion. The group rallied early behind Tsongas's successful run for Congress three years ago.

"Emily's List has raised more money for women candidates across the country than any other group," said Barbara Lee, another prominent fund-raiser for women candidates. Lee is lined up behind Coakley, and she expects that Emily's List will as well.

"She is the only person who has run a statewide campaign and been elected, and that's going to count for a lot," Lee said. "She's raising money hand over fist, and I believe that she will raise enough money to be competitive even though she's starting from ground zero."

Members of Coakley's steering committee were asked on Tuesday to raise $75,000 each.

But other fund-raisers are waiting to see if Congressman Ed Markey gets into the race. Phil Johnston, a former chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, is among them. Johnston predicts that money is not going to count so much because the primary is smack in the middle of holidays, and the money would buy TV ads aimed at people who won't turn out to vote anyway.

"I think that because this is a special election and the voter turnout will be quite low, presumably, on Dec. 8, that money is of far less importance than it is in a general election campaign," Johnston said. "If I were running one of these campaigns, I would emphasize grass-roots organizing."

There are signs that the Republican side of the race could change fast as well.

State Sen. Scott Brown is thinking about getting in the race and has said he'll announce his decision later this week. And on Tuesday, a spokesman for Christy Mihos, the Cape Cod businessman who has been running for governor, said Mihos is considering running for the Senate seat, but Mihos himself said "there's no truth to it."

This program aired on September 9, 2009.

Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reports on politics and higher education for WBUR.


+Join the discussion

Support the news