Speculation that Vicki Kennedy, the widow of Massachusetts icon Senator Edward Kennedy, would run for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Secretary of State nominee John Kerry was laid to rest on Friday, as Mrs. Kennedy gave her strong support to the candidacy of Congressman Edward Markey.
"Ed Markey is the right person for the job. He will be a superb senator for Massachusetts,” Mrs. Kennedy said in a statement.
Her endorsement of Markey, a member of the House since 1976 representing the suburbs outside of Boston, added to the sense of inevitability that Markey will be the uncontested Democratic nominee for the Senate seat currently held by Kerry, considered a shoo-in to be confirmed as the new Secretary of State when Congress convenes in the New Year.
Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004 and a high-profile member of the Senate since 1985, also gave his strong support to Markey’s candidacy.
"While I began last week to formally step out of politics and it's very important that I respect the apolitical nature of the post I hope to soon occupy, as Massachusetts' senior senator today and as a colleague of Ed Markey's for 28 years, I'm excited to learn of and support his decision to run for the United States Senate," said Kerry in a statement.
"Ed's one of the most experienced and capable legislators in the entire Congress and it would be an almost unprecedented occasion for such an accomplished legislator to join the Senate able to hit the ground running on every issue of importance to Massachusetts."
Though other Massachusetts Democrats, including Congressmen Mike Capuano and Stephen Lynch, have been mentioned as possible Democratic candidates for Kerry’s seat, Markey will likely face no intra-party opposition for the nomination given the leading endorsements he has received to date.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also lined up behind the long-serving House member on Friday, saying that Markey “is exactly the kind of leader Massachusetts needs in the U.S. Senate.”
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is expected to appoint a caretaker for Kerry’s seat after his confirmation. A special election for a permanent replacement is expected in June, when the Democratic nominee could well face off against outgoing Republican Senator Scott Brown, who lost his seat in last month’s election to Elizabeth Warren.
Though Brown has yet to say if he will re-enter the political arena, he remains a well-known name in Massachusetts politics and has a strong operation still in place.
Brown was a shock winner of the 2010 special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant after the 2009 passing of Senator Kennedy. However, during last month’s elections he was soundly defeated by Elizabeth Warren in his bid for a full six-year Senate term.
Markey was part of a congressional delegation led by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi that traveled to Ireland earlier this year.