Seeking to avoid a bloody primary fight, influential Massachusetts Democrats have decided to back long-serving Congressman Ed Markey for the seat being vacated by Secretary of State nominee John Kerry.
Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of the late Senator, as well as Rep. Niki Tsongas, widow of a former Senator — both mentioned as possible candidates in the primary — declined to challenge Markey. Senator Kerry has also endorsed the far left congressman
Markey has served in Congress since 1976 and is regularly re-elected with overwhelming margins. But he’s never run a statewide race and is little known outside his district.
Kerry, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of state, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued statements Friday in support of Markey, the Boston Globe reported.
Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, still faces Senate confirmation hearings but is expected to pass.
Markey, a 36-year House veteran, announced earlier this week that he would run for Kerry’s seat if the senator is confirmed.
His support sends a signal to other potential Democratic candidates, including Reps. Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch, to stay out of the race.
The potential candidates were reportedly upset by the perceived power play but don’t appear willing to step aside, a top Democratic operative told the newspaper.
Democratic Rep. Niki Tsongas, considered a strong potential candidate, announced Friday that she would not challenge Markey for the party nomination.
The leading Republican candidate would likely be Sen. Scott Brown who lost his reelection bid last month by 8 percentage points to Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. However, Brown has not said whether he would make another run in the heavily Democratic state.
If and when Kerry officially gives up his seat, Gov. Deval Patrick has 145 to 160 days to set a date for a special election. The Democratic governor will appoint an interim senator to fill the seat until the election results are counted.
Markey’s interest group ratings are among the most liberal in Congress. He receives scores of 100 from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the ACLU, the gay organization Human Rights Campaign and numerous other liberal groups while getting a corresponding zero rating from many conservative organizations.
Massachusetts Republicans are almost giddy at the prospect of sending former Senator Brown into battle with Markey. If there is one candidate who may be too liberal for the state, it’s him. Both candidates should be well financed and well organized, which will set up a most interesting race in 2013.