BOSTON — Massachusetts Republicans are scrambling to find a candidate for John Kerry’s Senate seat now that would-be GOP front-runner, former Sen. Scott Brown, has opted out of the campaign.
And with the clock already ticking down to the June 25 special election, there isn’t a lot of time to rally around a candidate.
Already two potential Senate hopefuls have publicly said they are considering a run.
Former state Sen. Richard Tisei, who narrowly lost a race last year in the 6th Congressional District against Democratic incumbent Rep. John Tierney, said in a statement Friday that he’s weighing his options.
“In the coming days, I will be talking with family, friends, and supporters to consider the best role that I can play in helping to bring new, alternative leadership to Washington,” Tisei said.
Norfolk state Rep. Daniel Winslow said Friday he’s received calls and emails urging him to run.
“I will reflect this weekend about my own family’s needs and whether there is room in the national Republican Party for a member who is both fiscally prudent and socially tolerant,” said Winslow, who also served as chief legal counsel for former Gov. Mitt Romney.
Others who have been mentioned as possible candidates include former Gov. William Weld, former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez.
Whoever gets into the race will have to make up lost time to the two declared Democratic candidates — U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch.
Lynch formally announced his candidacy on Thursday and Markey is planning a kickoff tour on Saturday.
The Republican candidate will also have to quickly close a fundraising gap. Markey had $3.1 million in his campaign account, compared with Lynch’s $740,000, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.
There’s also just four weeks to collect the 10,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot. The primary is April 30.
Still, Republicans remain optimistic that they can find the right candidate to win back a Senate seat after Brown’s loss last year to Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
Newly elected MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes pointed to what she described as the “strength, character and accomplishments” of the potential Republican candidates eyeing a run.
“The fact is the Democratic Party will field a mediocre congressman with a highly partisan record who has been part of the Washington gridlock,” she said.
The sense of urgency in the party was apparent on Friday.
Former party chairwoman Jennifer Nassour said now is the time for the various ideological factions in the party to put aside their differences and unite.
She said while she’s typically not opposed to primary fights, in this case, there’s not enough time.
“I think we should not have a primary in this case. If the Republican party is smart, we would find one candidate, rally around that candidate and work our tails off to get them elected,” she said.
Nassour also said the race could go to the speediest. Whoever jumps in first could get a big edge, she said.
“This is the case where the early bird gets the worm,” she said.
Not all Republicans are as rosy.
Many had seen Brown — who had a statewide organization, a proven ability to raise money and high name recognition — as their best hope to defeat what they describe as the Democratic political machine in Massachusetts, including unions that turned out heavily to help elect Warren.
“I think we have to look at this very carefully,” longtime Republican Party activist Jody Dow said. “There are some people with potential. Whether they can beat this machine or not, I don’t know.”