Q&A #2: CD5 Early Start

"Jesse" asks:

How do you feel about people like Rep. Sciortino or Sen. Clark already announcing their candidacy to replace Markey? Is it too early and assumes too much about how the Senate race plays out, meaning voters could be distracted? Or, is it smart for folks with lower name recognition to jump in so early? And finally, who do you think is the front runner for the seat -- Sciortino, Clark, or others?

I've actually written a column for next week's issue on this very topic, so I'll be brief here. Many certainly consider it a breach of protocol to start openly running before getting Markey elected. But on the other hand, the special election to replace Markey, if it happens, will be a fast, expensive, crowded race, and if you wait too long to start lining up donors, activists, and staff you're going to fall behind those who don't wait.

Potential candidates usually do this quietly, without publicly declaring themselves candidates -- what I call building a campaign under a tarp, ready to unveil on race day. But in this case, that's severely limited by the fact that this would be a federal campaign, and you can run into a lot of legal, ethical, and PR trouble in a hurry using state campaign resources -- ask Martha Coakley circa 2009.

As for a frontrunner, I don't think there is a clear top dog in this race. I think Clark is a very strong candidate, and Sciortino has a legitimate shot if the field shapes up right (oh, and by the way both are on our Beacon Hill's Mist Beautiful list!), but as you'll see in my upcoming column there are a lot of pretty evenly matched potential candidates in that district.

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