How happy is Ed Markey right now?
Massachusetts Republican senator Scott Brown will not run in the special election for outgoing Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s seat, according to a Republican source familiar with his plans. Brown’s decision means Kerry’s seat is very likely to remain in Democratic hands.
Republicans are now without a top candidate for the seat held by Kerry, who was confirmed by the Senate to be the next secretary of state earlier this week. On the Democratic side, longtime Rep. Ed Markey is the frontrunner, but he faces a challenge from fellow Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch, who is much more conservative.
With Brown out of the picture, Republicans may turn to Richard Tisei, the former state senator who lost to Rep. John Tierney (D) in 2012. Tisei didn’t rule out a run in a recent interview with The Hill. Former governor William Weld is another Republican to keep an eye on.
The special primary will be on April 30; the special general election will be on June 25. The winner of the election will have to campaign for reelection in 2014.
Well, that’s an understatement. Forgive me for sounding overly pessimistic, but one of the reasons I was hoping Mr. Brown would run for Senate is because he actually had a chance to win. He’s uber-popular in the Bay State and was leading -- sometimes by double digits -- in every single hypothetical poll conducted since President Obama nominated Senator Kerry for State. And most importantly, it would have brought Republicans one step closer to winning -- and keeping -- the Senate in 2014. Remember, also, the last two Democratic Senators -- Edward Kennedy and John Kerry -- served the Commonwealth for nearly 47 and 28 years, respectively. Thus if this seat goes blue, which seems exceedingly likely, it’s probably going to stay blue for years, if not decades to come. We already lost one seat; can we afford to lose another?
That said, this is probably the right move politically. Brown’s just coming off a disappointing electoral loss and perhaps the last thing he wants to do is seek high federal office. Bowing out now, and instead setting up his run for governor in 2014, gives him some time to relax with his family and weigh his options. As I wrote last week, Massachusetts has a history of electing moderate, middle-of-the-road Republicans to the governorship, and given his popularity, his chances are as good as any candidate hoping to succeed Deval Patrick.
And yet this is all hypothetical: Scott Brown might not even run for governor in 2014. We just don’t know. What we do know, however, is that the GOP had a golden opportunity to pick up a seat in the upper chamber -- that is, a chance to send a representative from Massachusetts(!) to Washington to oppose the president’s big government, tax-and-spend policies -- and it seems we’re letting it slip away. (This is not to say, of course, that Republicans should give up or throw in the towel). But I am saying that I’m not personally convinced that Republicans will be as competitive as they could have been if Scott Brown was on the ticket. I think this is a missed opportunity, but I understand why the Senator ultimately decided against it. Here's his full statement:
“Representing Massachusetts in the United States Senate was the greatest privilege of my life, an experience that takes second place only to my marriage to Gail and the birth of our daughters. It was a higher honor than I had ever expected, and in the time given to me I always tried to make the most of it.
“When I was first sent to the Senate in early 2010, it wasn’t exactly welcome news for President Obama or many other Democrats. Yet among my best memories from those three years in office are visits to the White House to see the President sign into law bills that I had sponsored. I left office last month on the best of terms with colleagues both Republican and Democrat. I had worked well with so many of them, regardless of party, to serve the public interest just as we are all supposed to. All of this was in keeping with the pledge I made at the beginning to do my own thinking and to speak for the independent spirit of our great state.
“Over these past few weeks I have given serious thought about the possibility of running again, as events have created another vacancy requiring another special election. I have received a lot of encouragement from friends and supporters to become a candidate, and my competitive instincts were leading in the same direction.
“Even so, I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time. And I know it’s not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me.
“That is why I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for the United States Senate in the upcoming special election.”