Battle lines being drawn for Kerry's seat

Barely a week after Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was appointed secretary of state by President Obama, maneuvering to succeed him as U.S. senator from Massachusetts is moving at a rapid pace.

Although Kerry has yet to resign the seat he has held since 1984, signs are now strong that the resulting special election will be between liberal Democratic Rep. Ed Markey and centrist Republican Scott Brown, who won a special election for the Bay State???s other Senate seat in 2010, but was defeated for a full term last month.

In the few days after Christmas, Kerry has given his blessing to Markey in a statement noting that the 36-year House member is ???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.”

In addition, both Ted Kennedy???s widow, Vickie???who herself had been mentioned as a candidate???and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee weighed in for Markey. The early, pre-primary action of the DSCC is particularly noteworthy, since at least two of Markey???s Democratic House colleagues???Reps. Michael Capuano (Somerville) and Stephen Lynch (South Boston)???recently signaled that they, too, were interested in the Senate race. By getting behind Markey now, the DSCC told other Democrats eyeing the race to stay out.

The same tactic was employed earlier this year, as state and national Democrats discouraged opponents to former Obama administration official Elizabeth Warren for nomination against Brown. She secured the Democratic standard with little opposition and then went on to dispatch Brown, whom sources in the Bay State told Human Events will ???definitely??? run in the special election for Kerry???s seat that is almost surely to be held in 2013.

Were Brown to emerge triumphant in such a race, he would make the fastest comeback to the Senate since Republican Sen. Henry Dworshak (Idaho)???appointed to the Senate in 1946, defeated in ???48 by Democrat Bert Miller, and appointed again nine months later after Miller suddenly died. (Dworshak went on to win a special election in 1950 and two more races, serving until his death in 1962).

But some in Massachusetts tell us that Brown is not the same Republican he was when he won the special election that followed Ted Kennedy???s death. At that time, he rallied the tea party movement and national conservative support. After his victory, Brown said he would vote a moderate-conservative line not unlike his political hero, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

???But this year, Brown moved to the left, staying away from conservative talk shows and keeping the Tea Party at arm???s length,??? is how one Bay State conservative activist put it, ???His ads trumpeted votes for ???Wall Street reform??????which meant Dodd-Frank???funding Planned Parenthood, and repealing ???Don’t ask, don’t tell??? in the military, which he had previously backed. His American Conservative Union rating went from 74 in 2010 to 50 in 2011. I suspect it will be considerably lower in 2012. By the end of the 2012, campaign Brown ads declared: ???Vote the person, not the party.??????

This was obviously not a winning formula for Brown in 2012, but in 2013, a Brown return is still possible.