The decision by Edward M. Kennedy Jr. on Monday to pass on a run for US Senate in Massachusetts in 2013 eliminates one of the few Democrats with the star power to ward off serious challengers within his own party, increasing the odds of a tough Democratic primary fight that could damage the eventual nominee.
Three Democratic congressmen, Edward Markey of Malden, Michael Capuano of Somerville, and Stephen Lynch of South Boston, have signaled interest in running for the Senate in a special election, for a seat expected to open with the nomination of Senator John Kerry to lead the State Department. None of the congressmen has declared a run.
“I think people were waiting to see what Teddy would do,” said Philip W. Johnston, a former chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.Polls suggest that Republican Scott Brown, who lost to Elizabeth Warren in November, would be in a strong position to win the seat. Massachusetts was one of the few states in which President Obama had coattails in a Senate election. With lower turnout and without the president on the ballot, a special election might work to Brown's advantage.
Why are several House Democrats considering a run? The results of the 2012 House elections suggest that the GOP may be in the majority for years to come. These lawmakers may be reckoning that it is much better to belong to the Senate majority than the House minority. That's true even for Markey, who is now among the most senior House Democrats.