Brown biding his time?
Some think the ex-Senator may be looking to run against Markey next year
Massachusetts Democrats ousted Scott Brown by turning the election calendar against him. The short calendar between Brown’s January 2010 election and his November 2012 defeat meant that the state’s dominant party essentially got a do-over for losing a critical election. The Democrats made up for losing to Brown in 2010 by running a far stronger candidate in 2012, while running Brown ragged with what amounted to three straight years of campaigning and fundraising.
Now, with a scant 17 months standing between Ed Markey’s ascension to John Kerry’s old seat and Markey’s next reelection date, state Republicans will be the ones looking to use the election calendar to their advantage. Markey beat Gabriel Gomez by 10 points this week, but the Malden Democrat ran a campaign that was far less impressive than his margin of victory would indicate; now he’ll have to wind it up all over again, likely against a stronger candidate than the political neophyte he just dispatched.
The most intriguing rumors about the GOP’s plans for 2014 surround Brown. The half-term senator remains personally popular in Massachusetts, despite losing his Senate seat to Elizabeth Warren by a solid margin last November. He left his party hanging in February when he backed out of the contest for Kerry’s seat. At the time, he told friends he was exhausted, and couldn’t take another two years of non-stop campaigning. Since hooking on with Fox News and the law firm Nixon Peabody, though, Brown has made a point of refusing to disavow interest in any office – the governor’s office, a future run for Senate, or even a move to New Hampshire.
Markey’s reward for beating Gomez is an immediate reelection contest. He will walk into that contest with a relatively thin base of support, thanks to his inability, or unwillingness, to whip up excitement in voters. Turnout this week was roughly half what it was during the January 2010 Scott Brown-Martha Coakley race; Markey-Gomez attracted roughly 1.1 million fewer voters than the 2010 contest did. In Boston, turnout managed to top the city’s last city council race, but fell roughly 20,000 voters short of the city’s last mayoral race. As a result, far fewer Massachusetts residents actually voted for Markey than voted for Coakley in 2010. Only 60 percent of Coakley’s votes showed up for Markey – a sign of the tepid response Markey elicited, even in his Democratic base. The larger turnout expected for next year’s contest doesn’t necessarily change the makeup of the electorate in ways that hurt Markey. But it will mean that Markey will be chasing support among more than one million voters who sat out the June special election, but who will probably turn out in a gubernatorial election year. He’ll be stuck in a perpetual campaign. Scott Brown knows all about how those go.