The next member of Congress from Massachusetts’ Fifth District, a ribbon of suburbs from Revere to Framingham, will enter an environment marked by ideological rigidity, partisan voting, and special-interest pressures. It will be hard for a new representative to get his or her bearings, let alone develop the kind of relationships that enabled Ed Markey, who held the seat for 37 years, to be an effective lawmaker even in periods of Republican control.
The five candidates who are running in the Democratic primary to succeed Markey are all solid, well-credentialed politicians who cut their teeth in an entirely different atmosphere on Beacon Hill. Voters must decide which contender’s style of leadership best translates to the Capitol. The candidates provide a range of legislative approaches, from the ebullient, unabashed “Massachusetts liberalism” of state Representative Carl Sciortino Jr. of Medford, whose funny “coming out” ad is already being touted on MSNBC, to the fiscally moderate, professorial state Senator Will Brownsberger of Belmont, whose openness to new ideas could make him a bridge to centrist Republicans.