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What if they offered an election and no one ran?

This is what the state Republican Party in Massachusetts has to be thinking about when it comes to the special election to replace John Kerry in the U.S. Senate. Starting Friday with former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, the party has seen a number of possible and viable candidates decide they’re not going to enter this particular fray.

Joining Brown on the sidelines for this particular election so far are Richard Tisei, a former state senator who narrowly lost to incumbent Democratic Rep. John Tierney last year and William Weld, the former governor.

This leaves only a few high-profile Republicans left for the party officials to talk into running, the most prominent being Kerry Healey, the former lieutenant governor under Mitt Romney. Daniel Winslow, a legislator representing Norfolk who has been a judge and worked as legal counsel for the Romney administration, is according to published reports, planning to announce today whether he wants to run.

This kind of scrambling for a candidate isn’t good for the political party or the state, even recognizing that the special election in June, and the primaries in April, present their own challenges. Republican and Democratic candidates wanting to be on the primary ballot have to collect 10,000 signatures from registered voters by Feb. 27. That means every day of indecision or “thanks but no thanks” by potential Republican candidates makes the signature process that much harder, to say nothing of energizing the party base and independent voters ... and raising the enormous amounts of money it takes to run for office these days.

Win or lose, a competitive campaign benefits the voters and the state. And if the message doesn’t resonate with a majority of voters, then perhaps the problem is the message.

So please, Republican party officials, don’t resort to whining about Massachusetts being a one-party state. Let’s remember that Brown was elected to the Senate in a special election. And while he was beaten last November, voters in a general election are willing to look past the party tag to select the best candidate for the job.

The race is on ... are you going to enter?

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