Lynch forces Dem primary in race to replace Kerry
U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch arrives in Worcester, Mass., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 to kick off his bid for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by John Kerry. / Christine Peterson,AP Photo/The Telegram & Gazette
Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., declared himself a candidate for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate today in Massachusetts, complicating the designs of party leaders who hoped to avoid a messy primary fight in the race to replace outgoing Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who was confirmed this week as Secretary of State.
In his announcement, Lynch bemoaned the intense partisanship in Washington, reports The Republican of Springfield, Mass. "You have a polarized system," he explained. "Being a moderate Democrat and a common-sense Democrat, I think that can help."
Lynch also touted his blue-collar background. "I actually think my working-class credentials are legitimate," he said, adding that he knows "what it's like to stand in an unemployment line."
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who announced his candidacy at the end of December, has secured the support of much of the party establishment, including Kerry himself, Vicki Kennedy, the widow of former Sen. Ted Kennedy, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, but Markey's coalescing support was apparently not formidable enough to ward off a challenge from Lynch.
Lynch and Markey will face off in an April 30 primary; the winner will run in the June 25 special election to fill the remainder of Kerry's term, which ends in January 2015. Wednesday, Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., named his former chief of staff, William "Mo" Cowan, to temporarily fill Kerry's seat until the June 25 special election.
Lynch has held his House seat since 2001, when he defeated six other Democrats in a special election to replace the late Rep. Joe Moakley, D-Mass. A former president of the Iron Workers Union, Lynch has enjoyed strong support from organized labor in past elections.
The face-off between Markey and Lynch, both veteran members of the Massachusetts House delegation, could provide a combative study in ideological contrasts. Lynch, an anti-abortion rights, conservative Democrat who voted against President Obama's health care law, is no favorite among party activists, while Markey, a green energy crusader who spearheaded the push for "cap and trade" in 2010, has been a reliably liberal legislator.
No Republican has yet stepped forward to claim the GOP nod in the race, but former Sen. Scott Brown, who was defeated last November by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, is thought to be eyeing a comeback bid. Despite his loss, Brown remains a popular figure in the state. Early polling of the race has shown Brown ahead of Markey by a healthy margin in a hypothetical matchup.
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