Massachusetts Senate: Brown Drops Along With GOP Chances

February 1, 2013 · 3:16 PM EDT

Former Sen. Scott Brown’s decision to forego the Massachusetts Senate special election dramatically changes the outlook of the race.

The popular Brown was the GOP’s only real hope to steal back a seat they lost in November, but the moderate Republican had been wavering in recent days, according to reports. His hesitancy is somewhat understandable, given that he would have to run in another bruising race this June after a brutal 2012 campaign -- then turn around in 2014 and do it all over again for a full term. That would have been four competitive Senate elections in five years.

Republicans don’t have a deep bench in the Bay State. Former lieutenant governor nominee Richard Tisei, who nearly knocked off Rep. John Tierney (D) last fall, is a moderate Republican and will likely be considered. But he doesn’t have nearly the same statewide identification or appeal as Brown. Former Gov. Bill Weld will be mentioned but he shouldn’t be regarded as a serious Senate candidate, particularly after running for governor of New York in 2006.

The reality for Republicans is that, barring a huge misstep by Democrats, this race is out of the realm of possibility for the GOP. Democrats will have to muddle through their own primary between Rep. Ed Markey, who has lined up virtually all the establishment support, and Rep. Stephen Lynch, but unless the winner decides to blaspheme the Red Sox again or President Obama’s popularity plummets, one of them should be headed to the Senate this summer.

Given the state’s Democratic bent and the lack of a proven GOP statewide vote-getter, we are moving the race to Safe Democrat. Of course, we will re-evaluate this rating if and when Republicans recruit a strong candidate.