Updated with interview with Marty Meehan below.
Former Rep. Marty Meehan (D) will not run in the special election for Edward Kennedy's former Senate seat, according to two well-placed sources in Massachusetts.
Meehan, who is now the chancellor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, has been mentioned in most stories as a possible contender in the upcoming Jan. 19, 2010, special election. In particular, Meehan has been seen as a possible candidate because he has retained a hefty $4.85 million campaign warchest since retiring from the House 2007.
However, two veteran Massachusetts Democratic sources who are familiar with how the field is shaping up told Politics that Meehan will not run.
Meehan's office declined to comment for this report. WBZ-TV in Boston is reporting that Meehan is still considering a run.
What is more interesting, though, is what Meehan's decision means for the rest of the field. Meehan was considered by Democratic insiders as a possible candidate only if a Kennedy does not run. His decision not to run is a possible indicator that a Kennedy is preparing to jump in the race.
Right now, all eyes are on former Rep. Joe Kennedy, Edward Kennedy's nephew and Bobby Kennedy's son. Sources say that his decision about the race is imminent. Despite most reports that Sen. Kennedy's widow, Vicki, is not interested in the seat, more than one Democratic source said that while she may not want the interim appointment, she could still run in the special election.
Of the rest of the field of potentials, Rep. Michael Capuano (D) is also considered unlikely to jump in the race if a Kennedy is in it. Same goes for Rep. Ed Markey (D).
Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) is going ahead full steam with her campaign, picking up her nomination papers on Tuesday. Coakley has said that she will run regardless of whether there is a Kennedy in the race and sources say Coakley's campaign is nearly fully staffed already.
By the way, don't buy into the story line that Coakley is starting out at a disadvantage to the congressional delegation because she doesn't have a federal campaign account. She has been a very effective fundraiser for her state campaigns and she will likely refund the money in her state account and ask those donors to make the same contribution to her federal account, a common practice in the Bay State according to sources. Plus, she will probably have the backing of pro-Hillary Clinton fundraisers in the state, of which there are many. No one in Massachusetts thinks money will be a problem for her.
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D) will likely also run whether or not a Kennedy jumps in the race. Lynch is more conservative than the other potential Democratic candidates and could benefit candidates splitting up the liberal block of the party in the December 8 primary. He is also considered very politically savvy. "Write him off at your own peril," said one veteran Democratic source. In particular, Lynch has union backing and the support of Worcester Country Sheriff Guy Glodis, who reigns over an extensive and well-oiled political machine in the western half of the state. However, Lynch will face a lot of opposition from members of the state Democratic Party because he is more conservative than the party activists.
Another name to keep an eye out for is former state Attorney General Scott Harshbarger (D). Harshbarger has been mentioned as a possible interim appointment, but sources say the former gubernatorial nominee is also considering a run in the special election. The Democrat has maintained a high public profile, regularly appearing on local news as a political analyst in New England.
UPDATE (Tuesday, 4:12 P.M.): In an interview, Meehan said that he has not shut the door on the race. "I haven't ruled it out," he said.
However, the Democrat then listed many factors in his decision making process, many of which sounded like reasons why he wouldn't run.
"I thoroughly enjoy my job here," he said, "and the truth is we've set out goals and objectives for the university that take longer than two years to implement. I want to make sure I wouldn't leave before I saw some of that transformation."
He went on: "I haven't missed Congress, frankly. I have a 9 year old and a 7 year old and I have gotten the opportunity to spend more time with my family."
Meehan noted that he has a longstanding relationship with Joe Kennedy and if either he or Vicki got in the race, Meehan would stay out of it.
But because he seriously considered the Senate in 2004 when John Kerry would have vacated it if elected president, Meehan said he "should at least do due diligence in terms of looking at it."
Jeremy P. Jacobs is a staff writer at Politics Magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com
Sources: Meehan Won't Run for Teddy's Seat
Updated with interview with Marty Meehan below....
Updated with interview with Marty Meehan below.