Kerry seat eyed by ex-sup­porter who sees him as too fixed on pres­i­dency

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Christina Bellantoni

Since los­ing the 2004 pres­i­den­tial race, Sen. John Kerry has be­come a cham­pion for lib­eral is­sues and a go-to Demo­cratic fund-raiser. Politi­cians sali­vate over his list of sup­port­ers left over from his bid, and the Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat hasn’t ruled out an­other run — some­day.

Many Democrats still seethe over Mr. Kerry’s loss but cau­tiously ap­plaud his an­ti­war ef­forts and his fundrais­ing for lib­eral causes and can­di­dates.

“There’s a clar­ity that I have about what is im­por­tant that comes out of the race in ’04,” Mr. Kerry told The Wash­ing­ton Times in an in­ter­view re­cently. “You kind of get back from it a lit­tle bit, you can re­ally see with that clar­ity. I don’t get tempted to jump back in, but an hon­est state­ment would have to ac­knowl­edge that there are times when you, sort of, you know, miss the bat­tle a lit­tle bit.”

Those lin­ger­ing pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions are the prob­lem and have put the long­time sen­a­tor out of step with his Mas­sachusetts con­stituents, said Ed O’Reilly, a Demo­crat aiming to chal­lenge Mr. Kerry in his Se­nate re-elec­tion pri­mary next year.

“I think John Kerry has been run­ning for pres­i­dent his en­tire adult life, and I think I can do bet­ter,” said Mr. O’Reilly, a for­mer fire­fighter and Glouces­ter city coun­cilor.

But it will be an up­hill bat­tle for Mr. O’Reilly to even get on the 2008 pri­mary bal­lot.

“One is go­ing to be hard pressed to re­ally be a se­ri­ous chal­lenger to the sen­a­tor,” said Michael Gold­man, a po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant in Bos­ton. “If a can- di­date does not have name recog­ni­tion, money or field or­ga­ni­za­tion, they are not go­ing to beat John Kerry.”

Mr. Kerry has $6 mil­lion in the bank; Mr. O’Reilly has raised less than $50,000.

Mr. O’Reilly is try­ing to court the same lib­eral blog­gers who helped pro­pel Demo­crat Ned La­mont to a pri­mary vic­tory last year over Sen. Joe Lieber­man in Con­necti­cut, but few at the re­cent Yearly Kos blog­ger con­ven­tion were aware of his can­di­dacy.

Markos Moulit­sas of Daily Kos said Mr. La­mont’s win last Au­gust sparked a real sense of change among lib­eral ac­tivists, but he doubts he will sup­port Mr. O’Reilly, even though he is “a fan” of pri­maries.

“Elected of­fi­cials should face vot­ers to jus­tify to the party they deser ve an­other chance,” he said. “They aren’t elected for life.”

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