Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has taken an early lead in the race to succeed the recently-deceased Ted Kennedy in the US Senate, where Kennedy sat for more than four decades. Coakley is followed by two Democratic challengers Reps. Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey.
According to a Rasmussen poll- the first major survey to be taken since the race began in earnest last week- Coakley leads the Democratic field with 38%. Lynch, a 54 year-old attorney and former union leader, follows at 11%. He was first elected in 2000 and represents the southern quarter of the City of Boston area, as well as some of the major suburbs surrounding the city. He's generally considered a conservative Democrat for his pro-life stance. Just one point behind Lynch is Ed Markey, the longest-serving Congressman currently representing New England. The Chairman of the Select Committee on Environment and Global Warming, Markey weighs in at 10%.
Coakley, who was first elected Attorney General in 2006, is the only candidate with statewide name recognition. Prior to serving as AG, she was District Attorney of Middlesex County, the most populous in Massachusetts.
Earlier this week, former Rep. Joe Kennedy- a nephew of the deceased former Senator- cleared the way for the rest of the field when he opted not to seek the seat held nearly continuously by a Kennedy dating back to 1952, when John F. Kennedy was first elected. Former Rep. Marty Meehan- now the chancellor at University of Massachusetts, Lowell- was also thought to be a top competitor for the seat, given the nearly $5 million dollars sitting in his campaign account. Meehan also declined to enter the race.