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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Jeff Jacoby

Unhealthy devotion to incumbents

As a candidate for lieutenant governor in 1982, John Kerry assured the voters of Massachusetts that he wasn’t seeking the position as a mere “stepping-stone” to higher office. But just one year into his four-year term, he announced his candidacy for the US Senate seat that Paul Tsongas was vacating because of illness.

Few people held Kerry’s broken commitment against him. In part that was because nobody had believed it in the first place (all candidates for lieutenant governor seek the position as a stepping-stone). But it was also because everyone knew what Kerry knew: If he passed up the chance to run for the position Tsongas was relinquishing, it might be years before it opened up again. So Kerry jumped into the Senate race and won. Sure enough, the seat has been occupied ever since.

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