Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) announced yesterday he will run to fill John Kerry's Senate vacancy in Massachusetts, assuming the senator is confirmed as Secretary of State, becoming the first Democrat to get into the race. The next question, of course, is who he's likely to face in a primary.
As of this afternoon, the Democratic Party establishment seems to have a preference: it doesn't want Markey to face any challenger at all. Indeed, Kerry himself announced his support for the congressman today:
"Ed's one of the most experienced and capable legislators in the entire Congress and it would be an almost unprecedented occasion for such an accomplished legislator to join the Senate able to hit the ground running on every issue of importance to Massachusetts.
"Ed's someone who authored and passed a visionary energy bill to deal with climate change; he's one of Congress' foremost experts on the Internet, telecommunications and new energy economies; he was a leader on nuclear weapons issues; and he's the House's leading, ardent, and thoughtful protector of the environment... He's passionate about the issues that Ted Kennedy and I worked on as a team for decades, whether it's health care or the environment and energy or education. He's gutsy and tough, smart and sharp, a workhorse in Congress who has never forgotten where he came from or who sent him to Washington."
Implied but left unsaid: "no one should run against him in a Democratic primary."
Whether other Massachusetts Dems get the hint remains to be seen. Keep in mind, this has to be awfully tempting for other in-state Democrats, especially members of the congressional delegation, because there's no real penalty for trying -- House members who run in the Senate special election don't have to give up their seats, and if they lose in the Senate primary, they can just run for re-election.
With that in mind, keep an eye on Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), who's already expressed an interest in the Senate race. Lynch may struggle in a statewide primary because he has one of the least progressive voting records of any New England Democrat -- he voted with Republicans to kill health care reform, supported the Iraq war, and opposes abortion rights -- but he may run anyway.
Update: Vicki Kennedy also threw her support today to Markey, calling him "the best person to continue in the tradition of John Kerry to serve our Commonwealth in the United States Senate."