As Senator John Kerry will reportedly receive the formal nomination from President Obama to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, his senate seat will be up for grabs in Massachusetts. This comes after consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren just notched a victory for the Democratic Party when she defeated Senator Scott Brown on Election Day. Now that Kerry’s seat will most likely become vacant, the Democrats will fight to prevent Kerry's seat from falling into Republican hands. Several candidates may be up for the challenge in a special election to fill the vacancy.
According to Massachusetts state law, a special election must take place 145 to 160 days after a senate vacancy occurs. The winner of the special election will serve for the remainder of Kerry’s term, but can then run for a full six-year term in the 2014 midterm elections. Until the start of the election, Governor Deval Patrick will be required to appoint an interim senator as he did in 2009 after Ted Kennedy’s death. So who are the likely contenders for the GOP and the Democrats?
If he wants it, out-going Republican Senator Scott Brown will most likely be nominated on the GOP ticket. Brown won his senate seat in a special election in 2010 by defeating Democrat Martha Coakley, signalling possible GOP momentum in the state. But the victory was short-lived, as he lost to Warren last month. However, if he receives the GOP nomination, he may have the opportunity to serve alongside his former opponent in Congress.
As for the Democratic Party, there are several possible politicians to be considered. A strong case can be made for Martha Coakley, who ran against Brown in the 2010 special election. Coakley is currently the Massachusetts Attorney General, and this strong prosecutor may have a second chance at the senate seat by challenging her former opponent Brown.
Michael Capuano, Representative for the Bay State’s 8th congressional district, may also run for the Democrats. Capuano reportedly met with Patrick to discuss a possible appointment.
Representative Ed Markey is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and passed on the opportunity of running in the special 2010 election, but he may make a go at it this time around.
Stephen Lynch, another Massachusetts congressman, could also throw his hat in. However he may not gain widespread support among his party members because he voted against Obama’s health care plan.
Although Massachusetts is one of the most liberal states in the nation, there is the possibility that a Republican may gain the vacant senate seat. Scott Brown won in 2010, so who is to say that it will not happen again? If Brown or another Republican candidate wins the special election, then the Democrats may lose leverage in congress. President Obama has yet to make a formal announcement on Kerry’s appointment. When it happens, expect a mad scramble by Democrats to find a candidate who can keep the seat in the party's hands.