By Andy Metzger
State House News Service
---- — BOSTON — While Congressman Edward Markey has racked up three significant endorsements in his planned campaign for U.S. Senate, Gov. Deval Patrick said he would welcome more Democratic contenders seeking to succeed U.S. Sen. John Kerry.
“I like the idea of a primary. It’s all I’ve ever known,” Patrick said at a press conference yesterday.
“I’ve talked to a number of potential candidates. I don’t think that the field is complete yet. I don’t know that, but I don’t think so based on the conversations that I have had. I think that a primary isn’t a bad thing at all provided that it is about the issues and the needs of the people of the commonwealth, and not sniping and tearing people down.”
Patrick won as an outsider candidate in 2006, defeating former Attorney General Tom Reilly and Chris Gabrieli in the primary. Patrick faced no primary opponent when he ran for re-election in 2010.
Kerry has given public support to Markey, who has also received statements of support from Victoria Kennedy and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Meanwhile, Congressmen Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch are considering a run, as is state Sen. Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield).
An interim appointment will precede the expected special election and Patrick said that he has not been swayed by an outpouring of support for former Congressman Barney Frank, who has publicly stated he wants Patrick to appoint him to an expected interim U.S. Senate seat.
Asked whether a petition in favor of Frank’s appointment, along with support for him from Democratic organizations affected him, Patrick said, “No.”
Patrick went on to say that the unpublicized candidates for the seat would also garner public support. He has declined to discuss potential interim senators.
“If I made the list public, you’d probably have a whole bunch of petitions for them, because they’re very, very able people who I’m considering,” Patrick said.
Patrick again cautioned “we don’t yet have a vacancy,” though Kerry is expected to be confirmed by the Senate as the next secretary of state, which would set in motion an interim appointment and a special election 145 to 160 days after Kerry leaves.
Frank, who decided not to run in 2012 after his district lines were shifted, said on MSNBC last week that looming fiscal debates convinced him to tell Patrick he was interested in the interim appointment.
Patrick has said that and other conversations about the appointment were intended to be confidential, which Frank later told the governor he did not realize.
Frank has recently backtracked from criticism of Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator who President Barack Obama nominated as secretary of defense.