Bay State voters go to the polls today to choose nominees for Secretary of State John Kerry’s vacant US Senate seat. Since the Democrats are in an overwhelming political position in Massachusetts, it is apparent that the winner of their party contest tonight will become the next senator. The special general election is scheduled for June 25.
The man favored to win is Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) who was first elected to the House in 1976. If victorious, he will be the longest-serving House member ever to enter the Senate. All polls show Markey leading his congressional colleague, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8), posting double-digit margins in all surveys with the exception of some Lynch internal polls. It will be a major upset if Lynch manages to eke out a close win. In all likelihood, Markey wins tonight and again on June 25.
For the Republicans, three individuals are vying for a nomination that will immediately cast the standard bearer as the underdog position for the special general. Former US Attorney Michael Sullivan, state Rep. Dan Winslow, and businessman/Navy veteran Gabriel Gomez are the three candidates. Polling, though most of the available data features unacceptably low sample sizes, has shown both Sullivan and Gomez in the lead during the closing days.
Once nominees are secured tonight, the money battle will begin for the special general. Scott Brown’s upset victory in a 2010 Senate special election notwithstanding, proving that a Republican can win under certain circumstances, it is unlikely such a configuration will occur in this situation. In fact, it will even be a surprise if the national and state Republican Party leaders decide to wage a serious fight. Democrats will not allow their candidate to repeat previous mistakes and the party apparatus will strive to lock down this seat early.
Should the Democrats win the general election, a special congressional contest will then be scheduled to fill the vacated House seat, either Markey’s more northern and western Boston seat or Lynch’s south Boston CD. If the former wins, a band of three Democratic candidates are already campaigning as if a vacancy already exists. State senators Will Brownsberger and Katherine Clark are announced congressional candidates, as is state Rep. Carl Sciortino who was actually the first individual to go public with his political intentions, thus forcing the others to follow suit maybe more quickly than they had originally intended.
Gov. Deval Patrick (D) will schedule the special congressional election after the Senate cycle concludes in late June. If the current time frame is any indication, expect the special congressional primary and general to occur in September and November, likely concurrent with municipal elections scheduled for that same time. As was the case with the Senate special, the Democrats will be prohibitive favorites to hold whatever House seat comes open.
The new senator will take office within days of his victory. He will serve only the balance of the current term since this particular seat is in-cycle during 2014. The winner is eligible to run for a full six-year term at that time and there is every indication that whoever becomes the new senator will enter the regular mid-term election contest. Under Massachusetts law, appointed Sen. Mo Cowan (D) will serve only until the voters select a new senator.