Winslow Townson/AP/File
Then-Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts (r.) laughs as former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld talks with reporters after Weld endorsed Brown in Boston last October. Weld and Brown have both said they will not seek the Senate seat vacated when John Kerry was named secretary of State.

Massachusetts' incredible shrinking Senate race: More Republicans bow out

The most likely GOP contenders are no-shows, but some other Massachusetts Republicans are launching campaigns or testing the waters. Still, Democrats may be hard to beat in this Senate race.

The surprise decision of former Sen. Scott Brown not to run for the vacated US Senate seat in Massachusetts left an opening for other Republican hopefuls to step forward.

Who would it be?, the pundits asked.

Former Gov. William Weld, the party’s elder statesman in Massachusetts? Former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who as a woman might be a Republican answer to Elizabeth Warren – the Democrat who ousted Mr. Brown in November? Richard Tisei, viewed as an up-and-comer who narrowly lost a 2012 bid for the US House?

Try none of the above.

They have all taken their names off the list to run for the seat that was held until recently by John Kerry (D), who is moving on to be President Obama’s secretary of State.

Even Tagg Romney, son of the former governor who ran for president against Mr. Obama last year, was mentioned and then said no thanks.

The race for Senate will still be a contested one. Some other Massachusetts Republicans are launching campaigns or testing the waters. It’s just that the most likely contenders are no-shows.

One obvious conclusion to draw: Democrats may be hard to beat in this Senate race.

Not surprising, given the state’s Democratic-leaning population. But back in 2010, Brown was able to score an upset win in a special election after Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) died. But for a repeat of that scenario to look promising, it’s likely that at least one of the party’s “big” names – Brown, Ms. Healey, or someone else – would have to run.

On the Democratic side, liberal Rep. Edward Markey will square off in a primary against the more moderate Rep. Stephen Lynch in a bid to succeed Mr. Kerry.

Republicans must hope that they can find a nominee with Brown-style crossover appeal and that they can sell voters on the idea of political diversity in the congressional delegation. Currently, all members of the House and Senate from the state are Democrats.

Naysayers should remember that Brown, a state senator before he launched his campaign in 2009, wasn’t exactly a big name in Massachusetts.

So far, one Republican who is actively exploring a Senate run is Daniel Winslow, a state representative and former aide to Gov. Mitt Romney. Former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez and state Senate minority leader Bruce Tarr also may enter the race.

Unlike in 2010 (when Brown won) and 2012 (when he lost), the Republican who gets the nod in an April 30 primary will then face a sitting member of Congress in June, assuming that either Representative Markey or Representative Lynch ends up as the Democratic nominee.

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