To some voters, it feels as if it were just yesterday that canvassers were knocking, ad wars were raging, and campaigns were calling and calling.
“It was just awful; I would get two, three, four from each campaign, every day,” recalled Sharon McMillen, an independent from Mansfield, as she waited in South Station Friday afternoon.
Now, it appears, the race for US Senate is turning into a perpetual political campaign. US Senator John F. Kerry’s nomination as Secretary of State will trigger the third Senate election within four years, with another contest to follow in 2014.
Are voters ready for all this?
“Ugh,” McMillen said. “No.”
This constant contest is highly unusual in Massachusetts, where US Senator Edward M. Kennedy claimed one Senate seat for nearly 47 years and Kerry held the other for 27.
“We’ve had such longevity for such a long period of time and a lack of really competitive races,” said Peter Ubertaccio, director of the Martin Institute at Stonehill College.
Suddenly, he said, Massachusetts could be “overdosing on Senate races.”
“I really think there is a sense that people are fatigued by politics,” Ubertaccio said. He pointed to last month’s intense and nationally watched Senate race between Senator Scott Brown, a Republican, and Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic challenger who beat him, as well as the presidential contest featuring former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
“But there will be no rest,” said Ubertaccio. “As soon as Christmas is over, I would suspect this race will really take off.”
So said a number of voters interviewed at South Station Friday afternoon. “I’m not looking forward to the politicking and all the ads,” said Pam McCarron, 72, of Boston. “They just had the election.”
Edson Silva, 22, a tax associate who lives in Brockton, also worried about the barrage of advertising.
“I don’t know if I can really handle another spate of campaign ads,” said Silva, who marveled, a bit horrified, at the hundreds of millions that were raised and spent on the presidential races. “I feel like there should be a limitation on how many ads you can put out. It’s outrageous.”
“It was getting very trying,” 72-year-old Joan Phelan agreed. “All the phone calls, all the literature. I’m glad that’s over.”
But as someone who works at the polls in her town of Canton, Phelan is enthusiastic about the prospect of another contest, particularly if it revives the fortunes of Brown, whose surprise win in the 2010 special election following Kennedy’s death was reversed by Warren.
“I think that people are engaged to put Scott Brown in again,” said Phelan. “I was shocked he didn’t get in.”
McMillen, the Mansfield voter, went even further on Brown’s behalf. Since Governor Deval Patrick plans to name an interim successor to replace Kerry before a special election is held, McMillen suggested that the governor nominate Brown for the temporary post.
“Let him stay and do his job,” she said, calling that “what’s best for the country and for continuity.”
That is nearly impossible to imagine, of course, since Patrick has said he does not want to appoint someone who will run in the special election. As a member of the opposing party, Brown is already considered a threat to Democrats who worked hard to unseat him.
And that worried Stephan E. Wierzbicki, 41, of Fairhaven. “The possibility of Brown getting in there is very high,” he said.
His husband — Chris Donovan, 54, of Fairhaven — was more sanguine about the pace of the campaigns.
“I love the whole election process,” he said. “I’m perfectly happy with going through campaigning again.”