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Markey move spotlights problems of running for two offices in the same election

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Political fallout from Edward J. Markey's 11th-hour decision to discontinue his candidacy for the US Senate, in favor of a reelection bid for the US House, may not blow away soon.

Although the congressman from Malden had a perfect right to change his mind about reaching for higher office, the move can hardly be expected to enhance his elective career. Indeed, it could cost him the seat he has held for the past 71/ 2 years.

But regardless of Representative Markey's political future, his decision to quit the Senate race only a week before the filing deadline for his nomination papers underscores a major shortcoming in Massachusetts election laws. Worse, his decision came just a few hours before the filing cutoff for the state legislature, which affected three state lawmakers who had to decide whether to continue their campaigns for Markey's congressional seat or to try retaining their state posts.

In the aftermath of this shuffle, the Markey decision raises two serious questions worthy of lawmaker consideration:

1.Should an office-seeker (incumbent or no), having applied for and begun circulation of nomination papers, be allowed to seek signatures either simultaneously or in the same campaign to run for a different elective post?

2.Should a candidate, having collected funds to run for one office, be permitted to use these funds in a quest for another political niche in the same election, if the candidate changes his or her campaign sights?

From an ethical standpoint, at least, the answer to the second question appears to be a resounding ''no.''

When people contribute to help a candidate gain or retain a particular office , there is no certainty any donors want their money used by the candidate to campaign for a different elective seat.

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