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Markey urges any challengers to sign ‘people’s pledge’

Congressman Ed Markey Jan. 1, 2013.

Joshua Roberts /REUTERS

Congressman Ed Markey Jan. 1, 2013.

US Representative Edward J. Markey, a candidate for US Senate, today urged other candidates who join the race to sign the groundbreaking pact that prevented political action committees from running attack ads in last year’s Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren.

“I am challenging all of the candidates – Democrats and Republicans – in this special election for the United States Senate to join me in committing to the people’s pledge upon entering this race,” Markey said in a statement. “If all the candidates agree, we can give the voters the kind of debate they deserve. This election should be a forum for the voices of everyday voters, not attacks from Karl Rove and other outside special interests.”

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Markey, however, has not shied away from accepting donations from political action committees, in a reversal from early in his career. Throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, Markey abided by a self-imposed ban on accepting money from PACs. But he abandoned that ban in 2003. Markey’s aides did not respond to a request today to explain why he changed his stance.

Currently, about 23 percent of the cash Markey has collected since 1989– or $2.8 million – comes from PAC money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finaces. The PACs that donate to Markey include those from major media companies that Markey helps to oversee on a powerful Congressional committee.

The so-called People’s Pledge, which Brown and Warren signed, said that if an outside group ran an advertisement on television, radio, or online, the campaign that benefits must pay a penalty to charity. To the surprise of many, those groups largely abided by the pledge, even as the campaign turned negative. The goal of the pact was, in part, to make the candidates responsible for their own messages and not let outsider groups sling mud on their behalf.

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US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, who is considering a run for US Senate this year told WCVB earlier this month that he would push for the so-called People’s Pledge, if he joins the race. the South Boston Democrat is expected to announce his decision later this week.

But some political strategists believe there is little incentive for forces in either party to sign the pledge this year. With only one Senate election nationally, a host of political groups from around the country would be able to focus all their attention and cash in Massachusetts, as they did ahead of the 2010 special election to replace Edward M. Kennedy.

“It’s the only game in town and it will be difficult to keep the groups out, and I think both campaigns are going to think they need the help,” said Dave Carney, a longtime Republican strategist from New Hampshire who served as President George H.W. Bush’s political director, told the Globe earlier this month.

Michael Levenson can be reached at mlevenson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.
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