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With Joe Kennedy out, Senate race wide open

With no Kennedy in the running, expect a crowded Democratic field.

By Tracey D. SamuelsonStaff writer / September 8, 2009

The long Labor Day weekend was no vacation for those considering a bid to fill the late Edward M. Kennedy’s seat in the US Senate.

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Joseph Kennedy II, after nearly two weeks of silence, announced Monday that he will not run for the Senate seat that has borne his family’s name for all but two of the last 60 years.

Mr. Kennedy’s pass means the Democrats are likely to have a crowded ballot for the Dec. 8 primary.

The race to come

Monday’s annual Greater Boston Labor Breakfast provided indications of the race to come. Attorney General Martha Coakley – currently the sole official candidate on the Democratic side – spoke to the crowd of union members and shook hands outside the breakfast venue.

Reps. Michael Capuano, Edward Markey, and Stephen Lynch were also in attendance, although Mr. Kennedy, in an inkling of his announcement later in the day, was not.

Representative Lynch said he was “likely” to announce his candidacy this week. Mr. Markey said he was trying to decide whether he’d make a greater impact if he remained in the House, where he has served for more than 30 years and has seniority.

Mr. Capuano, perhaps already campaigning, seemed to warn union members to be wary of unnamed competitors. “When it comes time to make the tough decisions, that's when you start to figure who's with you and who's not," he said. He said Tuesday that he had picked up nomination papers and would make an announcement about his intentions next week, according to the Associated Press.

Markey, Capuano, and Rep. John Tierney had previously said that they would defer to Kennedy, if the former Representative decided to run. Marty Meehan, also a former Representative and the current chancellor of the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, was also waiting on Kennedy’s decision. But on late Tuesday, he announced that he will not run.