Massachusetts Democrats have nominated a candidate to replace Ted Kennedy, and all indications are that she will be a replacement in full.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley ran her primary campaign as an unapologetic progressive who promised to carry on where Kennedy left off on issues ranging from advancing health-care reform to protecting civil rights and opposing unwarranted military adventures abroad.
Coakley framed her run as a campaign to extend the legacy and the mission of the man she referred to as “our distinguished and tenacious Senator Ted Kennedy.”
In announcing her candidacy for the seat held for almost 37 years by Kennedy, she said of the liberal lion of the Senate, “We have depended upon him in the Commonwealth and in Washington for his leadership, his strength, and his sense of humor. As some have noted, we perhaps cannot fill his shoes, but must strive to follow in his footsteps.”
That message carried the day in Tuesday’s special Democratic primary election, which saw the veteran prosecutor winning almost 50 percent of the vote statewide against three serious challengers. It also positions her as the clear front-runner going into a January 19 special election contest with Republican state Senator Scott Brown, a fiscal conservative who the Boston Globe says “falls well to the right of the moderate Yankee Republican tradition, once upheld in the Senate by Massachusetts’ Ed Brooke, Connecticut’s Lowell Weicker, and Rhode Island’s John and Lincoln Chafee.”
That’s not a recipe for success in Massachusetts, which remains one of the most liberal and steadily Democratic states in the nation.
The Democratic primary was always seen as the biggest test for Coakley. And she passed it with ease.
The primary campaign was a struggle between Coakley, the front-runner from the start and a favorite of activists and voters who want Massachusetts to send a woman to the Senate, and Congressman Michael Capuano, a self-identified “passionate progressive” who holds the House seat once occupied by Ted Kennedy’s brother John.