- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2013

Former Sen. Scott Brown announced Friday that he is passing on the chance to run for the special election to fill Democrat John Kerry’s seat.

The decision leaves Republicans scrambling to find candidate to compete in the June 25 election, which will determine who serves out the final two years of the term of Mr. Kerry, who was confirmed this week as secretary of state.

“I don’t think it’s impossible for a Republican to win the upcoming special election in Massachusetts for the U.S. Senate, but Scott Brown was probably the GOP’s best chance,” said Kevin P. Donnelly, political science professor at Bridgewater State University. “There are other viable Republican candidates to be sure, but at this point it will be a scramble for most anyone else to put the necessary campaign infrastructure in place. With Brown, the infrastructure was already there.”

Political observers say Republicans might turn to state Rep Richard Tisei, who lost a bid for a U.S. House seat last year, former Gov. Bill Weld or Charles Baker, who lost his 2010 race to Democrat Deval Patrick for governor.

Whatever the case, the GOP appear to have an uphill battle on their hands — thanks in large part to the fact that the state’s well-oiled Democratic machine is coming off a strong showing in the November election, where Elizabeth Warren knocked off Mr. Brown.

The spotlight now shifts to the Democratic primary battle between Reps. Ed Markey, who has the support of Mr. Kerry, and Stephen Lynch. The two men are set to face off in the special primaries set for April 30.

Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics gives Mr. Markey the edge right now.

“He is much likelier to emerge from the primary against the more conservative Rep. Stephen Lynch, and while it’s possible that other Democrats will now enter the primary field with Scott Brown removed from the equation, Markey has locked up establishment support,” Mr. Kondik said.

Mr. Bayles, however, said that Mr. Lynch should not be counted out because “in some ways, Lynch is closer to Scott Brown than to Markey.”

“He is a real Reagan Democrat in a lot of ways — at least on paper,” Mr. Bayles said, pointing out that Mr. Lynch was the only member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation to vote against President Obama’s health care law in 2010.

Earlier this week, Gov. Patrick tapped a former top aide, William “Mo” Cowan, to fill the seat on an interim basis in the Senate and announced that a special election to fill the seat would be held over the summer. Mr. Cowan said he has no intention of running for the seat this summer.

In a statement, Mr. Brown, who first attracted national attention with his upset win to fill the seat of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 2010, said that he received a lot of encouragement to seek the spot and that his “competitive instincts” were pushing him in that direction. Eventually, though, he decided that he needed a break from the rigors of the campaign trail.

“I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time,” Mr. Brown said. “And I know it’s not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me.”

Ray La Raja, political science professor at the University of Massachussets, said that Mr. Brown “made a smart decision.”

“The Democratic governor is popular, Ed Markey — the likely nominee — is a strong candidate, and some of the themes that resonated in the last election about national Republicans being too extreme will linger into the next race,” Mr. La Raja said. “…Every day that the Senate Republicans blocked Obama proposals, the Massachusetts electorate — which really favors the president — would be reminded about how a Scott Brown victory might make matters worse in Washington, even if Brown is a moderate.”

Mr. Brown has not ruled out a run for governor against Mr. Patrick in 2014.

Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement, “This was no doubt a tough personal decision for Senator Brown and his family, who understandably need to recharge after several long, hard-fought campaigns. … The Republican conference remains excited about the prospect of the Massachusetts special election, and we have the organization, energy and resources to win.”

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