September 3rd, 2009
12:33 PM ET
5 years ago

Coakley formally gets in Massachusetts Senate race

Coakley is running for the Senate seat long held by Ted Kennedy.
Coakley is running for the Senate seat long held by Ted Kennedy.

(CNN) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley Thursday formally announced her bid for the state's vacant Senate seat long held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

"We face a crisis of confidence. We have lost our distinguished and tenacious senator, Ted Kennedy," Coakley said Thursday in an event surrounded by supporters.  "We have depended upon him in the Common Wealth and in Washington, and we will miss his strength, his leadership, and his sense of humor.  As some have noted, no one can fill his shoes, but we must strive to follow in his footsteps."

Coakley is the first candidate on either side to officially enter the race for the seat that for over four decades was held by Kennedy, who died last week.  The move comes days after Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced a special election to fill the vacancy will be held on January 19, 2010 with party primaries to be held December 8.

"I believe government has to work well, and it has to work for everyone," said Coakley,  a former district attorney and the state's attorney general since 2006.   "I believe that is the promise democracy has been based and I believe it is time to renew that promise."

With Massachusetts effectively a one-party state - Democrats control the governorship and every congressional seat, and have overwhelming majorities in both houses of the state legislature - it's likely the Democratic primary race will ultimately determine the state's next senator.

Several other Massachusetts Democrats have not ruled out running for the seat, including Kennedy's nephew former Rep. Joseph Kennedy, who reportedly has close to $1.8 million left over from his campaign fund when he was a member of Congress 10 years ago.

A majority of the state's congressional delegation is also thought to be interested in the seat, including Reps. Ed Markey, Mike Capuano, Stephen Lynch and Jim McGovern.  Former Rep. Marty Meehan, now the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, could also be interested and has almost $5 million in contributions at his disposal.

But one Massachusetts Democratic strategist who works with Coakley says the attorney general could be the best suited candidate politically because of her state-wide experience and base of support in Middlesex County, the state's most populous and wealthy swath which includes nearly all of Boston's suburbs.  She'll also likely be the only woman seeking the seat in what may be a crowded field of men.

Speaking Thursday, Coakley dismissed the notion that she will be unable to raise a sufficient amount of money to launch a serious campaign.

"In the past I have been able to raise the money I need to.  I believe I will here," She said.  "We've been off to a good start.  This is a race where money is necessary but not sufficient."

Massachusetts Democrats are now waiting on a decision from Joe Kennedy, who is likely to clear much of the field if he decides to run.

Two Democratic sources in Massachusetts tell CNN Kennedy has been making calls to some friends and political players around the state to "talk issues," as one of the sources put it.

The clear signal, both sources said, is that he is thinking about it. Doubt remains that Kennedy is interested in making a bid for the seat, but the calls are making people think he is at least giving it a serious look," the sources said.

Follow Alex Mooney on Twitter

– CNN's John King and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report


Filed under: Martha Coakley • Ted Kennedy
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. R in Maine

    Go Coakley! Be tough and crush all that scum that thinks that they should replace Kennedy.

    September 3, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  2. bravado in boston

    Ladies and Gentlemen, meet our next president in 2016!

    My vote is ready to drop in the ballot box!

    September 3, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Joe Fattal

    Not so fast Coakley. Kennedy legacy in the Senate might not go as quick as some people thinks. Good luck, but we will have a Kennedy in the race.

    September 3, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  4. yuri

    Barring a few unforeseen and untoward incidences, this election hopefully will attract a lot of voters to fill in the void left behind by Ted.

    September 3, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. Mississippi Mike

    If it's going to automatically go to a Democrat then what does it even matter? Pick one and forget about it.

    September 3, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. DJ

    Yeah...long live the Kennedy's. I want another Kennedy.

    September 3, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I don't know her politics and can't say whether she'll be an EFFECTIVE senator. I honestly wouldn't mind seeing Jo Kennedy running.

    September 3, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. Coakley Lies

    ANYONE but Coakley!!!

    She is a dishonest DA (I know, nothing new), a truly power-hungry attorney who steps on the backs of others to get ahead. She created this militant program in MA where she pretended to protect women but all she was really doing was trying to build herself a name. The usual tough on crime crap that is nothing more than a ploy for political office. She is the opposite of Kennedy and should NOT be allowed anywhere near his seat. Please Kennedy followers and family - unite against this immoral wanna-be.

    September 3, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  9. Joey Fritts

    Good luck.

    September 3, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. Dave in Illinois

    Better be careful that your Democatic pals in the state legislature don't decide to flip the rules again and let the Governor fill the seat.

    If they don't, since she is a pro federal health care, pro same sex marriage left wing liberal Democrat, she should be able to fill Kennedy's seat with anyone batting an eye.

    September 3, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. Barry NiFong, Hawaii

    How is that government run healthcare doing in MASS? Oh it is running the state into bankruptcy? Dems are brilliant people.

    September 3, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Lou

    Attorney General Coakley should be a strong and effective candidate for her party's nomination to succeed Ted Kennedy in the United States Senate. It will no doubt be an interesting race, particularly if Kerry Healey gets in on the republican side.

    September 3, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. Kevin in Ohio

    "With Massachusetts effectively a one-party state ...." Truer words were never spoken......and look what it has caused. If anyone needs to wonder what Obamacare will be like, they need to look no further than the failing health care system of Massachusetts.

    People from Massachusetts need to wake up. For a real change, vote for a Republican. Yes, we can.......

    September 3, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  14. rr

    She better hope someone whose last name is Kennedy doesn't run against her.

    If a Kennedy runs, they might as well coronate him as soon as he announces. Has someone named Kennedy ever lost in Massachusetts?

    September 3, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. Jg

    I wish people would actually learn to research what they talk about. As a Massachusetts resident the mandatory Healthcare that was put into legislation, was the byproduct of Former Senator Ted Kennedy and former REPUBLICAN govenor Mitt Romney. Try using the internet for something other than to spout off nonsense and teach yourself something.

    September 3, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. RealityKing

    MASSACHUSETTS HAS been lauded for its healthcare reform, but the program is a failure. Created solely to achieve universal insurance coverage, the plan does not even begin to address the other essential components of a successful healthcare system.

    The prestigious Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, has defined five criteria for healthcare reform. Coverage should be: universal, not tied to a job, affordable for individuals and families, affordable for society, and it should provide access to high-quality care for everyone.

    MASSACHUSETTS plan flunks on all counts.

    -Boston Globe

    September 3, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. Akin

    Coak what? This woman must be told that the senate seat is not vacant. The most effective seat for half a century cannot be occupied by someone who lack ability to bring people together. It is the only seat that represent we the poor people not only in MA but in the entire US; we are not yet ready to give the seat away, not now, not ever. The next senator to be is Joe Kennedy and that is it. We have already voted, and Joe has won our vote!!!

    September 3, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. Roger

    I am proud that MA. is a state that is open minded, like change, diverse & are willing to take on challenges as most democratic state do..... My concerns are with those states & individuals that & will not take responsibility for the previous republican administration's blunders & face the fact that the republicans are responsible for the horrible economy, housing, unemployment, wars (one unjustified) and blame it on the Obama administration....the health care was a blunder because of the GOP & it's extreme right wingers telling nothing but lies & the grass root republicans do as they are told not , I also believe the Obama Administration under estimated the power of the GOP when it comes to telling LIES>

    September 3, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  19. Dieter Zerressen

    I love some of the conservatives on here complaining about Mass being an all democrat state. So what? That's what they obviously want. Have you been to Utah or Idaho lately? Geez, talk about conservative – those folks would vote for Pol Pot if he had an "R" after his name on the ballot (if they even knew who Pol Pot was because I doubt it's in any comic book).

    September 3, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  20. John

    On Rush Limbaugh Radio show today he brought one Canadian Mark Steyn.

    No American is supporting him. Therefore Rush Limbaugh is bringing Canadians.

    Canadians probably have no interest in US politics, their only interest being to earn money Rush Limbaugh pays them.

    This Idiot Canadian Mark Steyn was commenting on American Health Reforms, and was suggesting that US should not have State Option, whereas on the other hand he was praising Canadian State provided health care.

    Mark Steyn was speaking about something he had no idea.

    And Guess what ?? Some Idiot Rush Limbaugh Followers still believe in what ever they hear on his talk show. :|

    September 3, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. Debby

    The worse thing to happen to Mass. is Deval Patrick. The state roads are the pits and they are going bankrupt with their state run universal health care plan because of being taxed to death.

    September 3, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. Steve (the real one)

    While I don't believe a republican will win this seat; somebody please explain why some believe this a Kennedy seat. I didn't realize it could be owned by anyone! The people of Mass. wili vote as they see fit but seriously! I have noticed someone who lives elsewhere who want Brad Pitt for Senate in La and any Kennedy for Mass. With that mentality any wonder why Va, has issues?

    September 3, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Wake Up

    Whoever should support LESS government spending and more state rights. Simple as that. Someone has to stop Obama.

    September 3, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. Ridgeway

    A State run and represented only by Democrats? Ironic the seat of American freedom under the aegis of Socialists. So I guess the sports teams should be the Boston Reds, football the New England Commrades, basketball the Boston Pinkos? Nice.

    September 3, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. i want my finger back

    when is the coronation going to happen? libs don't complain about the republicans, you have all the power. go for it pass the healthcare enslavement act.

    September 3, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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