Massachusetts Democratic activists have given a big boost to the United States Senate aspirations of US Rep. James M. Shannon when they endorsed him at the state convention Saturday.
But even with the endorsement, the Bay State congressman is by no means assured of his party's nomination for the seat being vacated by fellow Democrat Paul E. Tsongas.
To make the November election ballot, Representative Shannon must make it through the Sept. 18 primary, in which he will again face the three candidates he bested here for the Democratic endorsement.
Lt. Gov. John F. Kerry, former Massachusetts House Speaker David M. Bartley, and Massachusetts Secretary of State Michael J. Connolly, although unsuccessful in winning the endorsement, received enough delegate support to continue their quests for the senatorial nomination.
Whoever wins the September primary will move on to the November election against the winner of the Republican primary. Elliot L. Richardson and Raymond Shamie are competing for the GOP nomination.
Shannon's fourth-ballot victory over Mr. Kerry, 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent, sets the stage for a particularly torrid political battle thoughout the summer. Kerry, who first gained national prominence in the early 1970s as the leader of Veterans Against the Vietnam War, had expected to do better at the convention. In recent voter-preference polls, he has been the front-runner among Democratic senatorial candidates.
Shannon, Kerry, and Mr. Connolly are politically liberal candidates. Mr. Bartley, now president of Holyoke Community College, is hardly a conservative, except by comparison. He is also the only Senate candidate from western Massachusetts, something which could give him a slight advantage.
Like Senator Tsongas, who has shied away from taking sides in the selection of his successor, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts and Gov. Michael S. Dukakis have remained neutral.
US House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. (D) of Massachusetts, however, was an early endorsee of Shannon, who has become one of his political proteges.