By Reid Wilson - 09/08/09 07:06 PM EDT
Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) on Tuesday became the second member of Congress and the third major Democrat to announce he will run for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat.
Capuano, who represents an area around Cambridge and Roxbury once held by John F. Kennedy, released a statement associating himself with the Liberal Lion.
Capuano joins Rep. Stephen Lynch (D) and Attorney General Martha Coakley (D), two major Democrats who have already taken the first steps toward running for Senate. Those who accrue the necessary signatures by the Oct. 20 deadline will compete in the Dec. 8 runoff.
The sprint is likely to get expensive, and quickly. Capuano had $1.2 million in the bank at the end of June, while Lynch had nearly $1.4 million on hand. Coakley had not set up a federal fundraising account, but she is likely to have significant backing, especially if, as expected, she receives the influential and lucrative backing of EMILY's List.
The three could be joined by other cash-rich members of Congress. Rep. Edward Markey (D), chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said in a statement over the weekend that he would "weigh where I can make the greatest impact" for Massachusetts. Markey had about $2.9 million cash on hand through the end of June.
Many believed that ex-Rep. Marty Meehan, the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, would run for the seat as well. Meehan had more than $4.8 million in the bank when he left Congress, but he told a reporter for WBZ-TV in Boston on Tuesday he would not run.
Meehan and Capuano both told Boston outlets that they would not run if ex-Rep. Joe Kennedy decided to make the race. The late senator's nephew took his name out of consideration over the weekend. Markey, too, referenced Joe Kennedy's decision in his weekend comments.
If Capuano survives the competitive primary and makes it to the Senate, he would leave open one of the most storied congressional seats in the country. Joe Kennedy was his immediate predecessor, while others who have represented the area include former Speaker Tip O'Neill and former Boston Mayor James Michael Curley.