Senator Scott Brown today took on a possible opponent in a special election to succeed his colleague John F. Kerry, questioning whether US Representative Edward J. Markey is actually a resident of Massachusetts.
Markey later hit back, hinting at a reprise of the political nastiness that permeated Brown’s recent election battle against Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
Brown has suggested he would compete in the special election that will be triggered if Kerry is confirmed as President Obama’s second-term secretary of state, but he has not made a formal commitment to a race. Markey has already said he will run.
“I’ll tell you what; They’re making it awfully tempting. You got Ed Markey: Does he even live here any more?” Brown said with a laugh as he called into the “Jim & Margery Show” on WTKK-FM.
“You’ve got to check the travel records. I’ve come back and forth (from Washington to Boston) every weekend, almost, for three years, and I see, you know, most of the delegation, and I have never seen Ed on the airplane - ever,” Brown added.
Markey, a Democrat born and raised in Malden, long called his childhood bedroom in his parents’ house as his Massachusetts residence, even though his wife, Susan Blumenthal, was a doctor at the National Institutes of Health in suburban Washington and the couple owns a home in Chevy Chase, Md. Blumenthal is now a health care consultant.
Following the death of Markey’s father in 2000, the congressman bought his family house and continues to maintain it as his voting address, an aide said last week.
In a statement today, spokeswoman Giselle Barry said: “Scott Brown has not yet announced that he is running for Senate, but he is already launching false, personal attacks from the sidelines. Ed Markey lives in Malden, and has lived there his entire life. He and his wife own their home in Malden. He is proud to come from and represent the values of the people of Malden. This campaign should be about what matters most to the people of Massachusetts: jobs, education, health care and the environment.”
Malden’s mayor, Gary Christenson, also issued a statement attesting to Markey’s community presence.
“When he’s not racking up legislative accomplishments, Ed can be found at the YMCA shooting hoops, at our fabulous restaurants on Saturday nights, or at community events throughout the year,” Christenson said.
Local and national Democrats also noted that Brown has a residence in Washington, is a member of the Maryland National Guard, and has a wife, Gail Huff, who is a part-time TV reporter in the city.
Sensitivity over residency was evident in a recent poll Markey conducted to assess his chances in a special election, which would be needed were Kerry to resign.
A pollster asked whether the congressman is seen as spending too much time in Washington, and if, after 36 years in the House, he doesn’t come back to his district enough.
Massachusetts election law does not require members of Congress to live in their districts, only that they be an “inhabitant” of the state when elected. The Constitution says a member of the House must be a resident of the state in which an election occurs.
Besides Markey, US Representatives Michael E. Capuano and Stephen F. Lynch are said to be weighing campaigns for the Democratic nomination, as is state Senator Benjamin Downing of Pittsfield.
Brown won a 2010 special election campaign to succeed the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a Democrat, but he was defeated for reelection in November by Warren.
While the Republican hinted in both his election concession speech and his final address from the Senate floor that he may try to return to Congress, he has not committed to the race.
Politicos of all stripes have speculated he may not run because of the uphill challenge a Republican faces in heavily Democratic Massachusetts, as well as the prospect of having to run four times in five years to gain and retain a Senate seat.
Former Governor William F. Weld is seen as a possible Republican candidate if Brown doesn’t run for Senate.
During his call, Brown corrected Braude when the host noted he had vote for a “fiscal cliff” compromise that raised taxes for the wealthiest Americans but not for 98 percent of them.
“It’s actually 99 percent of the Americans,” the senator corrected.
Brown also noted that it was the final day on the air for co-hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, whose station is switching from talk radio to music.
“Listen, we both have something in common, and finally, we both have something in common: After today, we’ll both be unemployed,” the senator said.
When Braude noted he still had a television show at NECN, Brown replied: “And I have National Guard duty, too, so I guess we’re semi-unemployed.”
Brown’s term ends Thursday, when Warren will be sworn in as a member of the 113th Congress.Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.