Green group endorses Rep. Markey

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) endorsed Rep. Edward Markey on Friday to fill Secretary of State nominee John Kerry’s Senate seat, while other green groups are holding back on offering formal support for a candidate.

“There’s been no greater champion in Congress for the clean energy economy than Ed Markey. He has never stopped fighting for Massachusetts — promoting new technologies and green jobs, standing up to corporate polluters, and putting the health of our families first,” LCV Chairman Scott Nathan said in a statement.

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Markey is so far the only Massachusetts Democrat to declare his candidacy to replace Kerry, whom President Obama recently nominated to be secretary of State. Kerry is expected to win confirmation from the Senate, which would trigger a special election to determine Kerry's successor.

Markey is a favorite among environmentalists for his climate change advocacy and criticism of oil companies. He also helped push a cap-and-trade bill in 2009 — the last major congressional effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions — that passed the House but died in the Senate.

Jeff Gohringer, spokesman for LCV, said the possibility that other Democrats might still run against Markey was not a factor in offering its official backing. 

But that does not appear to be the case for other environmental groups.

Massachusetts Democratic Reps. Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch, both of whom have strong environmental voting records, are also said to be considering a run.

While other green groups praised Markey, they are being more cautious about formally endorsing him before the full primary field is known.

“Understandably, many Sierra Club members and supporters are excited about his candidacy, but at this time the Sierra Club's volunteer-driven endorsement process is moving at a pace appropriate to the state of the race, and a final decision will be made once there is an open seat and the election is officially scheduled,” Phil Sego, political chair of the Massachusetts Sierra Club, told The Hill in a Friday statement.

And Heather Taylor-Miesle, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, told The Hill, “We are still in the process of evaluating what role we can play in the race but NRDC Action Fund thinks Markey is an environmental champion and would make a great senator.”

Markey earned the quick backing of several powerful Massachusetts Democrats, including Kerry, and the Democratic Party's Senate campaign arm.

With the fumbled 2010 special election to fill the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) seat still fresh in the minds of Massachusetts Democrats, the early support is largely viewed as a way to smooth Markey's path in what figures to be a bruising general election.

Observers blamed state Attorney General Martha Coakley's (D) loss in that 2010 election on her running a weak campaign. She squandered an early lead to the eventual winner, former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) ousted Brown in the 2012 race, and Brown is considered the likely Republican candidate in the campaign for Kerry’s seat.

LCV spent $1.1 million on the Warren-Brown race, and Gohringer said the group would “pull out all the stops” to get Markey elected.

“It’s going to be our most important race this year,” Gohringer said.

— Updated at 5:44 p.m.

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