I’ve heard Ed Markey several times tell the story of how he got elected to the House in a special election in 1976. It’s a long story, one I couldn’t repeat, filled with long-dead political figures from Medford, Malden and surrounding towns who could be strong candidates for a newly-open House seat. An old pol advised Markey to jump in early and take away the others’ advantages. The lesson, as I recall, was “the race is won when the field is set.”
Markey just took that old advice again, becoming the first candidate to declare his candidacy for John Kerry’s Senate seat.
The point, I expect, is to freeze out Mike Capuano and any other House members who might be interested, by staking a first claim on the national Democratic donor base. It will be interesting to see if it works and if Markey, who has never run statewide or faced serious opposition for as long as I can remember, can build a statewide organization and generate voter enthusiasm. His success, of course, depends on who else gets into the race.
I’m sure Markey is in it to win it, but it had to be an easier decision because a special election doesn’t require him to give up his House seat, or the seniority he has earned over long years of service.