Outgoing senator has plenty of options on the table

By Jim Morrison
BU News Service

BOSTON – The most popular game of political speculation at the Statehouse these days is whether U.S. Sen. John Kerry lands a position in President Barack Obama’s administration.

The second most popular speculation is what U.S. Sen. Scott Brown should do if that happens.

“I believe Sen. Brown should and would seek election to the U.S. Senate,” said state Rep. Dan Winslow, R-Norfolk. “He proved an effective and courageous senator, willing to cross the partisan divide that is hurting our country. And if you don’t believe me, just watch the fiscal cliff debates.”

If Brown, who surrenders his seat to U.S. Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren in January, runs for Kerry’s seat, it would be his third Senate campaign since 2009. And if he wins the special election, he would have to run again in 2014.

Although many of his fellow Republicans think he would be the best candidate in a special election, there are pundits who wonder if he’d be better off running for governor in 2014.

But more of Brown’s fellow Republicans – and even some Democrats – think he should consider another run for Senate.

State Rep. Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro, noted Brown’s reputation for bipartisanship.

“People want someone who can reach across the aisle and accomplish something,” she said.
State Sen. James Timilty, D-Walpole, noted Brown’s physical stamina.

“A special election is a sprint. Sen. Brown has the statewide name recognition – and don’t forget, he’s an extraordinary athlete, a triathlete,” Timilty said. “He can campaign for 18 to 20 hours a day and not many of us – including myself – can keep up with that pace for long.”

“Brown would be a clear-cut favorite,” he said.

If Brown did run, he might face a member of the state’s congressional delegation, including U.S. Reps. Edward Markey, D-Malden; Michael Capuano, D-Somerville; and Stephen Lynch, D-South Boston.

Timilty characterized the field this way: “They’re all political heavyweights. They would all make it interesting, but Sen. Brown would have the distinct advantage of having held the office before. And don’t forget, he’s a colonel in the military. He’d have the resources to be an overwhelming favorite.”

If Kerry gives up his seat, Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick would appoint the candidate of his choice to fill that seat for up to 160 days until a special election is arranged. It is highly unlikely that Patrick would appoint any Republican to fill that seat.

However, the Democratic-controlled state Legislature could vote to change the law and allow Patrick to appoint someone to fill out the full remainder of Kerry’s term, which ends in 2014.

They changed the law in 2004, when Mitt Romney was governor, and changed the rules back in 2009 under Patrick.

Senate President Therese Murray has repeatedly said she would not support any such measure, but Winslow isn’t so sure.

“The Democrats have proven that they are untroubled by corruption,” he said. “Why not hypocrisy?”

Patrick could appoint Brown to the open seat, but Winslow summed up the opinions of each of the legislators interviewed for this report when he said: “There is zero chance of that.”

State Rep. Jay Barrows, R-Mansfield, acknowledged Patrick’s public commitment to fulfill his term, but also said: “When the president of the United States asks you to do something, you do it.”

Patrick has repeatedly said he will complete his current term as governor and will not run for re-election in 2014, fueling speculation that Brown might hold back on running for the Senate seat and wait to run for the governor’s office.

Winslow summarized the opinions of the Republican legislators when he said: “I’m a big Brown supporter. Whatever he chooses to do, he knows I’ll have his back.”

This article is also featured on The Sun Chronicle

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Michelle Johnson

Michelle Johnson

Michelle Johnson is an Associate Professor of the Practice, Online Journalism, Boston University.
Michelle Johnson

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