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Kerry Senate seat now has contested primary: Stephen Lynch hat in ring

Rep. Stephen Lynch, a former ironworker, announced his campaign to succeed John Kerry in the Senate. He faces Rep. Edward Markey, the apparent front-runner, in a Democratic primary.

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Rep. Stephen Lynch (D) of Massachusetts gestures while announcing his bid for the seat being vacated by John Kerry at Ironworkers Local 7 in Boston, Thursday.

Charles Krupa/AP

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Rep. Stephen Lynch, a former union ironworker with South Boston roots, announced a campaign for the US Senate Thursday, setting up a contested Democratic primary for the seat being vacated by John Kerry.

Kerry, a longtime Democratic Senator, was confirmed by his peers this week to serve as President Obama's second-term secretary of State.

Edward Markey, the ranking US House member from Massachusetts, had already announced his intention to seek the seat Kerry has vacated.

Representative Markey, a liberal stalwart, is the apparent front-runner. Representative Lynch, with more than a decade under his belt in the House, is more of a political moderate – a stance that political analysts say hurts his chances in a primary election that hinges on winning support form party loyalists.

In a video and statement on his web site, Lynch kicked off his campaign by recalling his humble beginnings and 18 years as an ironworker, saying he’s spent his life “fighting for working families,” and emphasizing his support for Social Security and Medicare.

“I’ve gone from a kid in public housing, to the classrooms of Harvard, to the halls of Congress – and I never left my working class values behind,” read the statement, which also notes the campaign’s underdog status.

Many top Democrats in the state had hoped Markey would run uncontested for the party's nomination, saving financial resources and avoiding brand-tarnishing fights before the special election comes on June 25. Political pundits generally expect Scott Brown, the Republican recently ousted from the state's other Senate seat, to run and to make the race an interesting one.

Mr. Brown lost his most recent race to Elizabeth Warren in November, after a race that combined lots of money with neck-and-neck poll results for many months ahead of the vote.

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Brown's entry into the race isn't a sure thing, however. He has remained on the sidelines so far, possibly to weigh his chances after the bruising loss in November. The Republican scores high in likeability with voters, but a message of 2012 is that even a popular and politically moderate Republican has a tough time winning in Massachusetts.

A contested primary could serve one useful purpose for Democrats, besides giving voters a choice of nominee. It could leave the winner more ready for the rough and tumble of the general election campaign.

The primary vote is scheduled for April 30. Until the June special election, the state is being represented by William “Mo” Cowan, a former aide to Gov. Deval Patrick (D), who was named to the interim post by the governor this week.

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