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At the end of December, many members of the Democratic establishment in Washington opted for a nomination by coronation. They quickly rallied behind Markey, even before John Kerryís confirmation as secretary of State, because they believed he was the best candidate to defeat Brown and wanted to avoid a messy primary.
But now Markey is left with a relatively easy path, thanks to a mostly clear field and Brown declining to run.
Lynch is credible, but he is likely to be underfunded against Markey. Lynch is also regarded as the more moderate candidate, which isnít often a strong position in a primary, set for April 30.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Dan Winslow and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez are running on the Republican side. Both will have to work hard just to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot and will struggle in a general election to raise enough money. Those challenges could be tertiary to winning in a state that has elected a Democrat to the Senate in every election except one in the last 40 years.
Of course, some senators are appointed to the chamber, but they often had competitive races in their past or faced them in the future.
Democrat Michael Bennet was appointed to the Senate from Colorado but was promptly met with a tough and close election in 2010, in both the primary and general. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was appointed in January 2009 and cruised to two easy Senate elections, but she survived competitive House races previously.
In Hawaii, newly appointed Sen. Brian Schatz could face opposition in next yearís Democratic primary. That might be the only time Schatz is ever challenged in the seat, given the heavily Democratic nature of the state.
But this year in Massachusetts, it looks like the only candidate who can defeat Markey is Markey.