U.S. Rep. Edward Markey plans to run for John Kerry's Senate seat if Kerry becomes the nation's next secretary of state.
Markey, the dean of the state's congressional delegation, issued a statement Thursday saying the events of recent weeks, including the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary and the ongoing fiscal cliff debate, have made it clear to him that Massachusetts needs a senator with what he called the "right priorities and values."
"I have decided to run for the U.S. Senate because this fight is too important. There is so much at stake," the Malden Democrat said in a statement.
Markey, who was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, pointed to a handful of top issues, saying he'll refuse "to allow the tea party-dominated Republican Party to lead us off the fiscal cliff and into recession" or let the National Rifle Association obstruct an assault weapons ban. He also said he won't allow "oil and coal industry lobbyists to thwart our clean energy future or extremists to restrict women's rights and health care."
Markey said his priorities also include investing in jobs and protecting Social Security and Medicare.
"We need ... a national policy that makes our country energy independent and curbs the pollution that is causing global warming and fueling extreme weather events," he added.
President Barack Obama's decision last week to nominate Kerry as secretary of state means Massachusetts voters are facing their third Senate election since 2010.
If Kerry is confirmed by his fellow senators, which is expected, the long-serving Democrat would have to resign the seat he's held for nearly three decades.
That would force Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint someone to serve on a temporary basis in Kerry's seat until a special election could be scheduled between 145-160 days after his resignation.
The special election for Kerry's seat is expected to be crowded, especially on the Democratic side.
Markey may soon have company, including from fellow Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation.
Reps. Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch have said they're seriously considering running for the seat while Rep. Niki Tsongas has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.
Most of those Democratic House members would begin a campaign with a financial edge. Markey has one of the largest campaign accounts with more than $3.1 million. Capuano has nearly half a million dollars in his account while Lynch has more than $740,000. Tsongas has about $166,000.
Pittsfield state Sen. Ben Downing is also considering a run.
On the Republican side, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown would be the clear front-runner if he decides to run again.
Brown won a 2010 special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy but then lost a re-election campaign this year to Democratic Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren.
Despite the loss, Brown would be a formidable candidate.
He has a statewide political organization and more than $400,000 left in his campaign account. He remains popular and demonstrated an ability to raise millions of dollars in campaign donations.
But Brown would still have to contend with all the hurdles facing any Republican in Massachusetts.
Several potential Democratic candidates have already pulled their names out of contention. They include state Attorney General Martha Coakley; Ted Kennedy Jr., a son of the late senator; and actor and director - and Cambridge native - Ben Affleck.
Patrick has said he's already begun talking to potential candidates to fill Kerry's seat on an interim basis, although he wouldn't reveal the names of those he's considering, saying the conversations are being held in confidence.
Former Gov. Michael Dukakis, retiring Rep. Barney Frank and Victoria Kennedy, widow of Sen. Kennedy, have been mentioned as possible interim senators.
This program aired on December 27, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.