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Senator Downing Weighing U.S. Senate Run
By Andy McKeever On: 11:04AM / Thursday December 20, 2012

State Sen.
Benjamin Downing

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State Sen. Benjamin Downing could soon have an opportunity to join the "center of the debate" by bringing a fresh face and energy to U.S. Senate.

The senator, who was just elected to his fourth term, hasn't hidden that he wants to move up the in the political ranks. Last year, he weighed the possibility of running for the U.S. House. Now with what many are considering the imminent appointment of U.S. Sen. John Kerry as secretary of the state, Downing is prepared to mount a campaign in a special election for that seat.

If he decides to run.

"Why I am considering it is why I got into politics in the first place," the Pittsfield Democrat said on Thursday. "If you care about economic development, the center of the debate is in the U.S. Senate."

Downing is one of several Democrats reportedly exploring the possibility of running. U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Michael E. Capuano, and Edward J. Markey have all hinted at running for the nomination; Attorney General Martha Coakley has not ruled out a second try for the Senate.

There also has been fringe talk of two well-known names entering the race — Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy Jr. (who lives in Connecticut but owns a home at the Kennedy compound on the Cape) and actor and Oscar winner Ben Affleck, who's been involved with Democratic campaigns, including Elizabeth Warren's unseating of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.

Who actually enters the race is on all of their minds. Downing is waiting to see who is planning to run and then developing and examining his campaign strategy to see if he has a "legitimate" shot at winning.

"Successful statewide races are not handed to people who are the next in line," Downing said, believing he can energize both the Democratic base and unenrolled voters.

Brown himself has signaled that he may resurface as the Republican candidate, noting in his farewell speech on the Senate floor that "victory and defeat is temporary." The special election — and the timing — would be similar oddly enough to the circumstances that propelled the still popular Brown into the Senate the last time around.

Downing and Brown served together in the state Senate, although Brown also served three terms in the House before moving up to the Senate two years before Downing. Downing, of Pittsfield, easily won his first election and has run unopposed his last three terms for the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district, the largest district geographically.

The move would be a large jump for the 31-year-old but not one that hasn't been done before.

"While it is a significant step, it is one Scott Brown and Barack Obama took," Downing said. "I believe I can stand toe to toe with Scott Brown."

Downing knows how brutal campaigns for a national seat can be — he was recently part of the Warren campaign that defeated Brown — and he says he is ready for it.

"When it comes, I will be ready to take the step," Downing said, adding that he is ready to hit the ground running if he decides to make the "hard decision" of entering the race.



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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Voting is from 7 to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation is Oct.15.


Candidates on the ballot in races for state office; all others on the ballot are unopposed. Links will take you to their campaign websites.

U.S. Senator
Edward J. Markey, Democrat
Brian J. Herr, Republican

Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Charlie Baker & Karyn Polito, Republican
Martha Coakley & Stephen Kerrigan, Democrat
Evan Falchuk & Angus Jennings, United Independent Party
Scott Lively & Shelly Saunders, Independent
Jeff McCormick & Tracy Post, Independent 

Attorney General
Maura Healey, Democratic
John B. Miller, Republican

Secretary of State
William Francis Galvin, Democratic
David D'Arcangelo, Republican
Daniel L. Factor, Green-Rainbow

Treasurer
Deborah B. Goldberg, Democratic
Michael James Heffernan, Republican
Ian T. Jackson, Green-Rainbow

Auditor
Suzanne M. Bump, Democratic
Patricia S. Saint Aubin, Republican
MK Merelice, Green-Rainbow

Municipal Elections

The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015

You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.

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