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Editorial | In Kerry’s absence, risk of a one−sided election

Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 02:02

In a breath of fresh of air, John Kerry’s swift confirmation as Secretary of State last week lacked the familiar partisan bickering that usually comes with the territory of presidential appointments, confirmed by a 94−3 vote in the Senate.

Though most remember him for his failed 2004 presidential bid, the five−term Massachusetts senator brings to the State Department an unparalleled breadth of experience and well−credentialed background in international affairs as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and as a decorated Vietnam War veteran.

Kerry has been at the forefront of issues ranging from global climate change to the genocide in Darfur and, recently, to U.S. policy in the Middle East during the Arab Spring. During his 27−year tenure, Kerry, along with the late Ted Kennedy, placed Massachusetts squarely in the center of America’s political sphere. Though he will undoubtedly represent the country as a distinguished and knowledgeable statesman, Kerry’s departure leaves behind a sizeable void in the Massachusetts congressional delegation and, most importantly, signals the onset of yet another election cycle this year.

If Massachusetts residents aren’t accustomed to political upheaval by now, they should be. The special election in June for Kerry’s vacated seat will be the second in three years, and comes just seven months after the hotly contested and emotionally−trying senate battle between Senator Elizabeth Warren (D−Mass.) and former Republican incumbent Scott Brown. Based on the early announcements from both sides of the aisle in recent weeks, this year’s version proves to be far more one−sided and predictable.

Brown’s decision last week to step aside from the race, citing partisanship in Washington and campaign exhaustion, has left Massachusetts Republicans clamoring for a viable candidate in what, just days into the campaign, looks to be an unwinnable election for them. Names as diverse as former Gov. William Weld, former state Senate minority leader Richard Tisei, and even Tagg Romney have been tossed around as potential candidates. Tufts alumnus and one−term U.S. Representative Dan Winslow (LA ’80) seems to be a legitimate contender, and with the Feb. 27 deadline to obtain the necessary 10,000 signatures to get on April’s primary ballot looming, might be the only one.

The Democrats’ outlook is much more favorable as respected U.S. Representatives Ed Markey (D−Mass.) — who represents Medford — and Steven Lynch (D−Mass.), who represents Somerville, present voters with two suitable options in the primary election. Lynch, a social conservative, is almost certainly the underdog against Markey, a noted progressive and climate change activist who has been in the House since 1976 and has already received the backing of many of the state’s top Democratic officials. Regardless of the candidate, the Democrats look poised to add a second person to the Massachusetts Senate delegation in less than a year. They posses a more certain outlook and an insurmountable fundraising advantage at the moment. Combine that with the seeming dearth of Republican challengers in February, and we already have a pretty clear preview of what’s to come in June.

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