Republicans struggle in search for Brown replacement in Massachusetts

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February 10, 2013

Massachusetts

By: George Sousouris

BOSTON, Massachusetts: Since announcing that he would not run in the special election to replace new Secretary of State John Kerry (D), Republicans have started a long and difficult search to find a replacement for former Senator Scott Brown, once thought to be a potential frontrunner. Thus far only one Republican has officially declared his intent to be Kerry's replacement, state Rep. Daniel Winslow (R), a former legal counsel to Mitt Romney from 2001-2005. He has served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 2011.[1][2]

Other names that are being mentioned in local media sources are Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R), businessman and former Navy Seal Gabriel Gomez, Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R), as well as Worcester Sheriff Lew Evangelidis. Of that group, Tarr appears to be the most likely to jump into the race.[3]

However, the lack of interest by current and former GOP officeholders in the state is causing some worry within the party that the seat may be unwinnable without Brown, especially with such a heavily Democratic electorate. Some of the higher profile candidates which have declined to run include former Governor Bill weld, former state Senator Richard Tisei, former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, as well as former gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker.[4]

By contrast, Democrats have two relatively well known figures in the race, Congressmen Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch. While Republicans continue to hope for a bruising primary battle between the two, it would still leave an uphill battle for the Republican nominee. Markey scored several high profile endorsements in the wake of his announcement to run (including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Kerry himself), while Lynch, a former ironworker and union leader, continues to have strong union backing and potential support of many Catholics in Boston due to his generally anti-abortion voting record.[5]

While a lack of high profile names may not bode well for the party on the surface, Republicans are quick to point out that Brown was similarly unknown when he launched an improbable bid for the Senate. According to GOP political consultant Jason Kauppi, a candidate like Winslow probably has the same name recognition and visibility now that Brown had back in 2010.[3]

Mo Cowan (D), who was chosen as a temporary replacement for Kerry, has announced that he will not run in the special election to fill the remainder of the term.[6]

The clock is ticking on both parties for candidates to declare their intentions; there is a Feb. 27 deadline for filing paperwork with the state, and the primary election will be held on April 30. The general election is scheduled for June 25.[4]

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