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Interim U.S. Senator William
Mo Cowan speaks after being introduced by Gov. Deval Patrick (L)
With John Kerry now confirmed as secretary of state, Democrat Gov. Deval Patrick has selected his former chief of staff, Mo Cowan, to serve as Massachusetts' interim senator until a replacement is chosen in a special election in June. Cowan is a well-connected attorney who worked for Patrick for many years before returning to the private sector last November. He will become the second African American member of the Senate, along with Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina, who was appointed to fill a vacancy earlier this month. (This is the first time in American history that two black senators have served simultaneously.)

Many progressives had hoped Patrick might select ex-Rep. Barney Frank, who had openly lobbied for the job. But while Frank's personal advocacy may have displeased Patrick, I suspect he was more interested in appointing someone he had a personal relationship of trust with. What's more, Patrick had the opportunity to appoint someone young and who was, frankly, not another white guy career politician, and so he understandably seized it. In any event, Cowan said he would not run in the special (even though he is allowed to by law), saying that he is not a "candidate today or any time in the future." However, he's only 43 years old, so that's the kind of thing that could always change.

Meanwhile, PPP is out with their first poll of the election to succeed Kerry. In short, it contradicts all the Tom Menino-style anti-progressive "conventional wisdom" that seems to have congealed about this race. Not only is Ed Markey a stronger candidate against Scott Brown than Stephen Lynch, he also crushes Lynch in a hypothetical Democratic primary. Here are the numbers:

Brown: 48
Markey: 45

Brown: 48
Lynch: 39

Markey: 52
Lynch: 19
While Brown retains a 50-43 favorability rating, Markey has better numbers than Lynch, 38-35 versus 26-31, which helps explain the difference in their performance. Among Democrats, though, Markey really crushes, with a 58-13 score versus an underwater 27-28 for Lynch. That's a pretty lousy place to be with members of your own party, and while I'm sure his internal polling shows something different, Lynch may want to pause and seriously reconsider whether he wants to go this route.

As for the general election, Tom Jensen points out that the undecideds in the Brown-Markey matchup voted for Elizabeth Warren by a 69-17 margin last year. That means that while Brown is close to 50 percent, actually getting there will be a serious slog. Indeed, that's why many observers think Brown's better bet is the 2014 governor's race, which PPP also polled. Here's how Brown stacks up against some possible Democratic contenders:

• 48-37 vs. state Treasurer Steve Grossman

• 49-32 vs. former Medicare administrator Don Berwick

• 49-32 vs. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz

I'm surprised, though, that Jensen describes Brown as a "pretty strong favorite" in a hypothetical gubernatorial contest, seeing as he's still stuck just shy of 50 percent, much as he is in the Senate head-to-heads. And even the best-known Democrat, Grossman, is still unknown to over half of all respondents (by contrast, as I alluded above, Markey's name is unfamiliar to only a quarter). So I think this would be a difficult race for Brown as well. Easier, perhaps, and if he's going to run for office at all, I'd prefer it be for governor so as not to put this Senate seat at risk, but ultimately, this is still Massachusetts and recreating what happened to Brown in the 2010 special will be no easy feat.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 12:41 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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