US Representative Edward Markey, dean of the state’s Washington delegation, will run in 2013 for the US Senate seat expected to open with the nomination of US Senator John Kerry to head the State Department.
Markey, 66, a Malden Democrat elected to the House in 1976, is the first prominent candidate to declare a run for Kerry’s seat, which will be filled through a special election early next summer, probably in June. Kerry, a Democrat and head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is expected to be easily confirmed by the Senate in the coming weeks as the next secretary of state.
The Massachusetts special election is likely to be a closely-watched national race, and a potential harbinger for the 2014 mid-term elections.
“I have decided to run for the US Senate because this fight is too important,” Markey said in a statement to the Globe. “There is so much at stake.”
Two other Bay State congressmen, Michael Capuano of Somerville, and Stephen Lynch of South Boston, both Democrats, have also expressed interest in seeking Kerry’s seat. Running in a special election is a low-risk venture for House incumbents—if they lose they would still be members of Congress and able to run for reelection as favored incumbents in 2014.
A person familiar with Markey’s decision said the longtime congressman sees the US Senate as a better opportunity while the GOP controls the US House of Representatives. As a member of the House minority, even a Democrat with such a long incumbency is largely powerless. In the Senate, freshman senators have can adopt national platforms and wield great influence.
Governor Deval Patrick will appoint a temporary senator to fill the seat after Kerry is confirmed to his new job. Patrick has said he favors appointing a “caretaker” who will not seek the seat in the special election, and Markey will not ask for the appointment, according to the person familiar with his decision.
Republican US Senator Scott Brown, who lost his seat to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in November, is a potential GOP candidate in the 2013 special election. Brown, who won his seat in a 2010 special election after Senator Edward M. Kennedy died in office, has not said if he will run again.
Brown would be a battle-tested candidate after two statewide races in the past three years. Markey has won numerous comfortable reelection campaigns for nearly four decades, sometimes running opposed. But in a frisky announcement statement, Markey signaled he is prepared for a hard-swinging campaign for US Senate, defending several traditional liberal positions.
“With Senator Kerry’s departure, Massachusetts voters will decide once again whether we want a Senator who will fight for all our families or one who supports a Republican agenda that benefits only the powerful and well-connected,” Markey said. “I refuse to allow the Tea Party-dominated Republican Party to lead us off the fiscal cliff and into recession. I won’t allow the [National Rifle Association] to obstruct an assault weapons ban yet again. I will not sit back and allow oil and coal industry lobbyists to thwart our clean energy future or extremists to restrict women’s rights and health care.”
Markey said he favors spending money on “innovations and jobs,” protecting Social Security and Medicare, and “a sane approach to guns and violence.” In the US House, Markey has worked extensively on energy issues, and called for “a national policy that makes our country energy independent and curbs the pollution that is causing global warming.”
He is a graduate of Boston College and Boston College Law School, and a veteran of the US Army Reserves.
Markey begins the race with about $3.1 million in his campaign account, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.