Kennedy’s Seat Up For Grabs on Tuesday

BY Quinn Bowman  December 7, 2009 at 5:49 PM EST

On Tuesday, Massachusetts Democrats will choose the likely Senate successor to late Edward M. Kennedy when they go to the polls to select the winner of the party’s primary.

The seat is currently held by a placeholder, Kennedy family friend and
the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Paul Kirk.

Kennedy
held the seat for almost 47 years and was a liberal icon in the
Democratic Party and was widely regarded as the consummate legislator -
often shepherding landmark domestic legislation with unexpected
bipartisan support. Yet, his very public private life was buffeted by
tragedy and scandal. He died in August from brain cancer, but he lived
to see Barack Obama elected president. Kennedy and his niece Caroline
Kennedy Schlossberg campaigned extensively for Mr. Obama during the
contentious 2008 primary.

There are four candidates to replace him: Mass. Attorney General Martha
Coakley, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, Stephen Pagliuca, co-owner of the
Boston Celtics and Alan Khazei, founder of the City Year program.

Coakley is the favorite in the race: polls show her
with a double-digit lead over Capuano and Pagulica, while Khazei sits
at the back. A Nov. 23 Rasmussen poll had Coakley with 36 percent and
Capuano at 21 percent, while Khazei and Pagliuca both at 14 percent,
with 10 percent undecided.

If victorious in the primary and general election, Coakley would be the
first female senator from Massachusetts. Recent history also suggests
that the Bay State’s Senate seats do not become open very often: both
were held by the same men – Kennedy and Sen. John Kerry – since 1985.

Coakley picked up former President Bill Clinton’s endorsement over the weekend. She endorsed now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential primary.

Meanwhile, among the GOP contenders for the seat, State Sen. Scott Brown is considered a favorite over attorney Jack Robinson.

Boston’s public radio and television are providing in-depth coverage of
the races. You can read WBUR’s Sprint to the Senate blog here and WGBH’s program Greater Boston has video of candidate debates and profiles here.