Republicans Stampede Away From Massachusetts Senate Race


What if Massachusetts held an election and nobody ran? That’s the dilemma of the Republican Party for the special election to fill John Kerry’s Senate seat, now that he’s taken over as Secretary of State. A primary is scheduled for April 30th and the general election will be held June 25th, but Republicans are dropping out of the running like flies.

First, the widely-expected candidacy of Scott Brown fell through. In a statement on Friday, Brown declined to run in spite of much encouragement from supporters, saying:

“I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time.”

Then there was a lot of buzz about Richard Tisei, a former state senate minority leader, who was considered the GOP’s next best hope. But on Saturday night, Tisei declared:

“I believe it’s imperative that the Republican party put forward a strong candidate who can help bring much-needed change to Washington…Unfortunately, the timing is simply not right for me to do so.”

Where was the party to turn next? Getting perhaps a little desperate, the GOP trained its sights on former Republican governor William Weld who last served the state in 1997. There were only a few glitches, like that he was appointed ambassador to Mexico by Bill Clinton, supported Obama in 2008, and, oops, ran for governor of New York during a short residency there. Still, he’s a Republican–nominally at least. However, on Monday morning, he issued this statement:

“While I am grateful for the kind expressions of support and encouragement which I have received, I will not be a candidate for United States Senator from Massachusetts in the special election this year.”

Not to worry. Also on Monday morning, the Boston Herald announced that Mitt Romney’s son Tagg was probably going to run. Whew, right? Well, not so fast. Right on the heels of that announcement, sources close to both Mitt and Tagg hastened to inform ABC News that it ain’t gonna happen. Tagg’s too busy with corporate responsibilities.

What’s going on here? The GOP has gone from being cocksure they had Kerry’s Senate seat all sewn up, to scraping the bottom of an apparently already empty barrel. Excuses that are being put forward include the difficulty of candidates getting 10,0000 signatures by the end of the month to put them on the ballot (really? the GOP can’t get 2500 signatures a week out of the whole state?) and the daunting thought that whoever wins will have to run again in the regular election of 2014 (because a Senate seat is SO not worth it?).

But a third explanation seems likelier. President Obama won Massachusetts in 2012 by 23 points over the state’s former governor, Mitt Romney. Elizabeth Warren won her Senate seat by more than 7 points, easily throwing over the man who was supposed to be the heavy favorite, Scott Brown. The thing that really has Republicans jumping ship in 2013? It’s spelled h-u-m-i-l-i-a-t-i-o-n.

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