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Rep. Ed Markey running to fill John Kerry's Senate seat

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) announced Thursday he will run for U.S. Senate in the special election that will be held to fill Sen.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) announced Thursday he will run for U.S. Senate in the special election that will be held to fill Sen. John Kerry's seat if he is confirmed as Secretary of State.

"I have decided to run for the U.S. Senate because this fight is too important," Markey wrote in a statement released Thursday night. "There is so much at stake."

Markey is the longest serving congressman in the Massachusetts delegation; he was first elected in 1976. He represents the 7th District, suburbs north and west of Boston. He ran for Senate once before in 1984, but withdrew from the race. He is the first major contender to announce his intention to vie for Kerry's seat.

Two other Massachusetts congressman--Michael Capuano of Somerville, and Stephen Lynch of South Boston--have hinted at throwing their hats in the ring. As the Boston Globe points out, "Running in a special election is a low-risk venture for House incumbents—if they lose they would still be members of Congress and able to run for reelection as favored incumbents in 2014."

Edward Kennedy Jr., son of the late Senator, has quashed rumors of a possible candidacy. So has actor Ben Affleck, whose name was thrown around after pictures he took last week with Sen. Kerry sparked the rumor-mill.

In his statement, Rep. Markey laid out a broad progressive vision in line with his long-time positions in the House.

“I refuse to allow the Tea Party-dominated Republican Party to lead us off the fiscal cliff and into recession. I won’t allow the NRA to obstruct an assault weapons ban yet again. I will not sit back and allow oil and coal industry lobbyists to thwart our clean energy future or extremists to restrict women’s rights and health care.“There is a better way. We need to invest in innovation and jobs, so that everyone in Massachusetts can achieve the American Dream for themselves and their families. And we must protect Social Security and Medicare so that every American can retire in dignity. We need a sane approach to guns and violence. We need to a national policy that makes our country energy independent and curbs the pollution that is causing global warming and fueling extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy.

The special election will be held 5-6 months after Kerry is confirmed by the Senate to succeed Hillary Clinton as America's top diplomat. The winner of the special election will serve alongside newly-elected Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.