Mass. Dems Hope to Avoid Special Election Primary

(NECN: Alison King) - "I think many of us are concerned about an expensive, divisive primary such as we had when Scott Brown won. I don't think we want a repetition of that," former Mass. Democratic Party Chair Phil Johnston said.

It's no secret: Mass. Democrats are hoping to avoid a primary in the special election to fill Senator John Kerry's seat, should he be confirmed - as expected - as Secretary of State.

Johnston thinks the candidate should be the only person who has announced already: Congressman Ed Markey.

"I think Markey has the organization and the financial reach, not only in this state but around the country, to win the election this year and then win again in the next general election," Johnston.

Many establishment Democrats feel that in a short special election, the Democrats can ill-afford to beat each other up before taking on the Republican candidate, especially if that candidate is Scott Brown.

To that end, Democrats - usually big believers in primaries - seem to be working to clear the field for Markey.

Senator Kerry and Vicki Kennedy have already publicly endorsed Markey, and others are following suit.

"I do think in this case in a short period, it's a better fit if we can have one candidate. That doesn't impinge on anyone else's right to run. I think Ed Markey in particular is the right one," Barney Frank said.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the League of Conservation Voters, both of which spent millions getting Senator Elizabeth Warren elected, have also jumped on the Markey bandwagon, and their efforts seem to be paying off.

Pittsfield Senator Ben Downing, who had been seriously considering a run, issued a statement Friday saying, "...every consideration - especially financial - must be made before a race of this type is undertaken. After considering every aspect of a possible campaign, I have determined that I will not be a candidate..."

Many are watching closely to see if Congressman Michael Capuano or Stephen Lynch jump into the race, or if a celebrity-type candidate runs, since James Taylor's name has even been floated.

Governor Deval Patrick is one of the few Democrats to publicly embrace the idea of a primary.

"I like the idea of a primary," Governor Patrick said. "It's all I've ever known."

The full field of candidates probably won't be fully known until after Senator Kerry's confirmation is complete, which is a process set to begin later this month.

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