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National Democrats have done their best to clear the field for Rep. Edward J. Markey in the expected Massachusetts Senate special election, but as the 113th Congress opens Thursday, there are other Democrats still eyeing the race.
Bay State insiders believe that Markey could have a straight shot at the Democratic nomination, pending Sen. John Kerry’s expected confirmation as secretary of State. But that hasn’t happened yet.
Rep. Michael E. Capuano and state Sen. Benjamin Downing are still pondering a run for Senate, aides to each said on Wednesday. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch has expressed an interest in higher office as well, but his office didn’t answer queries as to whether he was pondering a run.
Markey, the 66-year-old dean of the Bay State’s congressional delegation, has the endorsements of Kerry, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Vicki Kennedy, the wife of late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. A June special election, at the earliest, is expected.
Whether Markey faces a bruising primary battle or can focus all his resources on the general election — he had a respectable $3.1 million in his federal account on Nov. 26 — could well determine whether he becomes a senator or remains a congressman.
Former Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., currently the chancellor of UMass Lowell, told CQ Roll Call that Markey is “positioned extremely well.” But, the former congressman warned, “I think everybody in Massachusetts recognizes that a tough Democratic primary battle means Scott Brown’s election.”
Brown, the outgoing Republican senator from the Bay State, appears to not have made a decision yet on a bid to return to the chamber.
“Scott is still thinking,” a Massachusetts Republican operative said. “You know what an insane commitment these thing are, no one jumps into them lightly.”
The source said the senator was huddling with his family and advisers. A decision is expected in the next two weeks.
Colin Reed, a spokesman for Brown, declined to comment.
But in a radio interview Wednesday morning, Brown jokingly knocked Markey.
“I’ll tell you what; They’re making it awfully tempting. You got Ed Markey: Does he even live here any more?” Brown said, according to a Boston Globe write-up of the interview.
That appears to be an early line of attack on Markey from the GOP: that he’s gone Washington, both in where he lives and how he acts.
“He’s pretty much the quintessential D.C. insider,” veteran Massachusetts GOP strategist Rob Gray said, noting he thought Brown had a good shot against Markey in a special election.
Of course, Markey’s campaign pushed back strongly against the assertion that he wasn’t still a Massachusetts man.