For Democrats, John Kerry's nomination to be the next Secretary of State has pluses and minuses. On the one hand, President Obama will get a spectacularly qualified cabinet official who'll be confirmed with overwhelming, bipartisan support. The nation will benefit from Kerry's service.
On the other, Democrats need every vote on Capitol Hill they can get, and it doesn't help if the White House takes leading lawmakers away from their caucuses. After all, the last time there was a special election to fill a Senate vacancy in Massachusetts, it didn't work out too well for the party.
But this time, the White House has at least recognized the issue up front, vowing not to take the race in the traditionally blue Bay State for granted.
Senate Democrats have been promised White House-level help in the battle to replace Sen. John Kerry in Massachusetts.President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton will all campaign for the Democratic candidate, according to a Democratic official.Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who Kerry is expected to replace, might also get involved."The [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] and Senate Democratic leaders have received assurances that the White House will be all in," said a Democratic official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In early 2011, the Democratic establishment didn't take the Massachusetts seriously, falsely assuming the result was a foregone conclusion. By the time Obama and his team saw the upset coming, it was too late.
In 2013, it appears the president is eager not to see this happen again.
For Senate Democrats annoyed that the White House is shrinking their caucus and inviting the possibility of a Republican pick-up, the promise of going "all in" should at least help settle nerves. Indeed, for potential Dems candidates eyeing the race, it should make the primary that much more enticing -- whoever gets the party nod will have the enthusiastic backing of both Obamas and both Clintons.
As for who may end up benefiting from the support, the field of possible Democratic candidates shrunk a little over the holiday weekend -- as Tricia noted earlier, both former Rep. Ted Kennedy Jr. and actor/director Ben Affleck officially announced they would not run.