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BOSTON (Reuters) - Representative Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat who has represented Boston and its surrounding since 2001, on Thursday formally launched a bid for the U.S. Senate, seeking the seat being vacated by John Kerry following his confirmation as the new U.S. secretary of state.
Lynch, a former ironworker, will face off against fellow House of Representatives member Edward Markey in an April 30 primary, ahead of a June 25 special election to choose a permanent successor to Kerry.
Lynch announced his candidacy with a speech in the headquarters of the ironworkers union he once ran - a site chosen to play up his working-class background.
After a series of appearances in Worcester and Framingham, the state's second- and third-most populous cities, Lynch told a crowd of supporters in Boston about his experience losing a job during a mass layoff at a nearby shipyard.
"I know what it's like to stand in an unemployment line. It's something you never forget," Lynch said, according to a text of his prepared remarks. "I learned that in severe economic downturns, that sometimes the only force that can correct that inequity ... is the government."
Lynch faces an uphill battle against Markey, who has held his seat in Congress since 1976, according to recent polls.
In a primary contest, 52 percent of voters would support Markey and just 19 percent Lynch, according to a Public Policy Polling study of 404 likely primary voters released on Wednesday.
No prominent Republicans have said if they will run for the seat, and observers wonder whether former Republican Senator Scott Brown will seek a return to Washington.
Brown stunned the liberal state's Democratic establishment in 2010 when he won a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant with the death of Edward Kennedy.
Brown lost a re-election bid last year to Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, on Wednesday named his former chief of staff, William Cowan, to hold the U.S. Senate seat until a successor is elected.
Cowan told reporters he viewed the appointment as temporary and had no plans to run in the special election.
Editing by Leslie Adler