Friday December 28, 2012

Just under two months after Massachusetts elected its newest U.S. senator, the next race for U.S. Senate officially got under way Thursday with the announcement by Democratic U.S. Representative Edward Markey that he will enter an anticipated special election. Mr. Markey will undoubtedly have plenty of company.

The Senate vacancy will come if U.S. Senator John Kerry is confirmed as President Obama’s secretary of state to succeed Hillary Clinton, who is stepping down after one term. In the week since the president announced his choice no opposition has emerged, with even the "Swift Boaters" who questioned the decorated Vietnam veteran’s patriotism when he was the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004 holding their fire so far.

A native of Malden, Representative Markey is a moderate Democrat and the dean of the state’s congressional delegation. After many years in which his seniority earned him chairmanships, Mr. Markey is undoubtedly chafing in a House led by Republicans who at best can only agree on what they oppose. The congressman said Thursday that in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the fiscal cliff farce and the school shootings in Newtown, that Massachusetts needed a senator with the "right priorities and values." That suggests a senator who believes that Washington has a responsibility to come to the aid of its citizens, who is willing to find compromise solutions to economic problems, and will support passage of tough federal gun laws. Those are solid platforms on which to run.

Other Democrats are sure to follow Representative Markey into the ring. On the Republican side, Senator Scott Brown, who was defeated by Elizabeth Warren on November 6, is likely to run and "The candidacy is his for the asking," according to state Representative Brad Jones, the Republican leader in the Massachusetts House. Mr. Brown has experience in special elections as he won the race to succeed the late Senator Edward Kennedy in January of 2010.

His challenge will be the same one he failed to meet in the race against Ms. Warren: making a case for election given his ordinary performance in office and his membership in an increasingly radical party out of touch with Massachusetts voters. Going negative didn’t work in his recent campaign and may not again.