And so the powers that be have anointed Congressman Ed Markey as the next U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, issuing a well choreographed series of endorsements to his new candidacy to replace John Kerry. Why, even the future Secretary of State got into the act, issuing a statement that sounded like an endorsement. (Probably written by the wordmasters over at Foggy Bottom for the ever so diplomatic Secretary of State in waiting.)
With the short time frames involved the Washington power structure has made it incredibly difficult for any other potential candidate to gain traction. The other candidates who have been prominently mentioned are Congressman Michael Capuano, Congressman Stephen Lynch, and State Senator Benjamin Downing. Others, like former Congressman Marty Meehan, Vicki Kennedy, Edward Kennedy Jr., Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, and a host of others, took themselves out of contention, leaving a more limited choice for Democrats. Under those conditions, and fearing a Scott Brown comeback, Washington insiders determined that they would unite behind Markey in an attempt to stop a primary bloodletting that might hurt the Democratic nominee.
Why Markey instead of one of the others? Markey is sitting on $3 million plus in his campaign account, giving him a big leg up on both Lynch and Capuano in that area. Markey is the dean of the House delegation, but is probably not the most popular guy in that group. (Just ask Barney Frank about that). In the end it simply becomes an equation for the Democratic power brokers in Washington based on one consideration: how can we best win? Their answer is with Ed Markey.
Just a couple of observations on the “process”. It is not clear to me that Ed Markey is the right answer to the question on who has the best shot to hold the seat for Democrats. But far smarter people, with access to data, have determined that he is, so let us concede the point. Nonetheless what has happened here is an injustice to Capuano, Lynch, Downing, and whoever else was thinking about running. I do not come at this question as a “process” diehard, as some of my good Democratic friends do. I like to win, and I like to see things move, and on that basis I understand what happened. But Capuano, Lynch, and Downing deserved better than what they got. And I am fascinated by the utter lack of consistency of some of those in the liberal blogosphere, who have been devoted to “process” and “democracy”, who now turn a blind eye to what is nothing short of putting the fix in. It will just be a bit more difficult to raise objections in the future when it happens with a different set of candidates.
Finally it is worth noting that one pretty big footprint lies on the back of Governor Deval Patrick, who went from a key player in the selection process to an after thought. Since the Markey move the Governor has been marginalized, with the Washington folks just blowing right by him. The Governor is used to doing the big footing, but in this case the role has been reversed.