Massachusetts will pick a replacement for Senator John Kerry on June 25, although it's likely that the winner of the Democratic primary on April 30 will pretty much have it locked up. All of the top tier Republicans who looked at the race-- ex-Senator Scott Brown, ex-Lt. Governor Kerry Healey, ex-Lt. Governor Jane Swift, ex-Governor William Weld, ex-state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei and a bunch of Romneys-- quickly declined to run. If enough of the petition signatures they turned in are deemed valid, the 3 Republicans who will be on the primary ballot-- ex-Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez. ex-U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Michael Sullivan and the one non-ex, state Rep. Daniel Winslow-- don't really offer a serious challenge to either Democrat running, Ed Markey or Stephen Lynch.
So it comes down to a battle between Congress' sharpest and most stalwart fighter for a sane Climate Change policy, progressive Ed Markey and a run of the mill conservative Democrat, Stephen Lynch, who's made a name for himself as an anti-Choice fanatic and GOP kiss-up in their culture wars. Example: on Palm Sunday, 2005, when Tom DeLay called Congress, back for a special session to exploit Terry Schiavo's tragedy, almost all the Democrats in the House ignored him and refused to take part in his circus. 102 Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, stayed away, including Ed Markey. Lynch could barely wait to get back to Washington to cast his vote with DeLay and the Republican necrophiliacs.
More recently, we watched Congress tackle the issue of Sequestration. Markey, along with virtually all the progressives in the House, voted against the policy. There was tremendous pressure from the White House-- exerted by pro-Sequestration party leaders Steny Hoyer, Steve Israel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz-- for Democrats to toe the line. Markey refused. No one needed to twist Lynch's arm. He was one of the 95 Democrats who went along with Boehner and Cantor and voted for this disastrous policy. That vote tells you a lot about who Stephen Lynch is and who Ed Markey is.
Yesterday we looked at how Sequestration is part of an orchestrated plan to
nudge panic reluctant Americans into accepting a Simpson-Bowles version of the failed European Austerity agenda and how progressives are fighting back against that potentially disastrous outcome. The Grayson-Takano letter ("we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits-- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need") sends a clear message to Obama and the House Democratic leadership that not all Democrats will sell out working families to pursue a conservative vision of deficit reduction at a time when the deficits are already shrinking and at a time when working families are being pushed to the brink, even as the stock market and the wealth of the one percent soars.
Markey, of course, stands with Alan Grayson and Mark Takano and the two dozen other progressives who are leading the way. Stephen Lynch refuses to sign the letter or anything like it. He's waiting-- as usual-- to be told what to do by his Establishment backers. Stephen Lynch is the last kind of politician a state like Massachusetts needs in the Senate-- which probably has a lot to do with why polling shows Markey substantially ahead and why both outgoing Senator John Kerry and newly elected Senator Elizabeth Warren have enthusiastically endorsed Markey. And so has Blue America. This week we set up a special Profiles in Courage page around the Grayson-Takano letter. Our first profile is Ed Markey. Please consider helping him win a seat in the U.S. Senate.
UPDATE: Lynch Raises The White Flag, Signs The Letter!
Today 3 more progressives and a conservative signed on to the Grayson-Takano letter. The progressives were Lacy Clay (D-MO), Mike Honda (D-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and their signatures are really non-stories, since they tend to support progressive initiatives anyway. The conservative is much bigger news: Stephen Lynch, who is freaking out that Ed Markey is ahead of him by double digits in another poll that came out today!