The latest Massachusetts US Senate special election developments show that Republicans are continuing to experience political freezer burn in the harsh New England winter. The battle lines are quickly being drawn for the campaign that will yield a replacement for newly confirmed Secretary of State John Kerry.
Yesterday, Taggart “Tagg” Romney, son of former Bay State governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, joined the group of prominent Republicans who will not become senatorial candidates. Following former Sen. Scott Brown’s decision not to run are ex-Gov. Bill Weld and former state senator and congressional candidate Richard Tisei, in addition to the younger Romney. Kerry Healey, who was Mitt Romney’s lieutenant governor, was said to be considering the race but she has taken no definitive steps to enter the contest. It is likely that the Republicans will be left with only a second-tier candidate.
There is news on the Democratic side, too. Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone said he will not challenge Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) or Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8) for the Democratic senatorial nomination. The move virtually assures that the two congressmen will be the only top Democrats in the race. Considering the situation on the Republican side, it further appears that the April 30 Democratic primary will ultimately determine the next senator. All early signs point to Rep. Markey being a huge favorite to win the party nomination, and now the seat.
It is little wonder that the Republicans who could conceivably make the June 25 special general election competitive are all taking a pass. Their path to sustained victory is simply too rocky. Even if the eventual GOP nominee scores an upset in the special election, the new senator would have to begin campaigning for a full term immediately. Because the Kerry seat is in-cycle in 2014, the winner will only serve a little more than a year before having to stand before the voters in the regular general election. Engaging in a pair of major statewide campaigns in two years, against daunting political odds in the current political climate, has made the credible Republicans back away, which is likely the wise choice.
The long-term move, however, may belong to former Sen. Brown. Entering the open governor’s race next year is still a viable option. In this scenario there’s just one election for a full term, and the Massachusetts Republicans’ have proven far more adept at winning this statewide office. Three of the state’s last four governors have been Republicans.