Political Wire is reporting today that Marty Meehan will officially submit his letter of resignation on May 9, and that the special election to fill the seat will most likely be held sometime in the first half of October of this year. This is a safe Democratic seat, which means the primary IS the race for all intents and purposes, so it's important that the netroots be involved in the process.
This isn't the only safe Democratic seat that's likely to come open between now and November 2008. CO-02 will be vacant with Udall running for Senate. Luis Gutierrez is retiring in exceptionally Democratic IL-04, Julia Carson may finally give in to her health problems in solidly blue IN-07, and Tom Allen will probably leave ME-01 to run for Senate. All of these will be important races, but MA-05 is first.
In 2006, safe seats were mostly overlooked online, and understandably so perhaps. There were much bigger fish to fry with the prospect of a wave election, and the safe seats just didn't make it to the top of most people's priorities. Leading up to the 2008 election though, there are more people online than ever before, writing from all corners of the country.
Blue Mass Group has been doing a great job covering the race, such as it is right now, and I'm sure that will continue. But this deserves national attention for a number of reasons. Marty Meehan was a big jerk about his millions of dollars that he's now not using, so we have the opportunity to get...not a jerk. Also, this race will have little competition for the spotlight in October. There will be several important Governor races and state legislatures that deserve attention also, but this isn't competing with a Presidential election and 460-some other federal elections. But most importantly, safe districts are more likely to produce reliable, progressive leadership. By no means am I suggesting that such leadership can only come from such districts, but when you don't have to worry so much about treading "moderately" to get re-elected, you're more free to be bold when necessary. Most of the districts that we won last year and will win next year, though they may remain Democratic for many years, are moderate districts. Progressivism can be strong in places like that, but to build a strong and responsive party overall, we need to work on the safe seats as well.
Several candidates have posted at Blue Mass Group, and Race Tracker has MA-05's candidates covered pretty well. There are several well qualified aspirants, and while I have my preference, it's relatively ill-informed and thus relatively irrelevant. What's important is that we pay attention and work hard to stock our safe seats with the same quality that we stock our battleground seats.