Massachusetts' senior senator is obviously running for president in 2020. I don't hold that against her, and I don't think most voters will, either.

I have always thought it was a phony issue to criticize a politician for possibly seeking a higher office when they are running for re-election to the job they already hold. I understand why a challenger would use it, and I don't blame a challenger for using everything they can in a tough fight. I just don't think it is an issue that moves voters to reject a candidate.

Obviously, if a person is not inclined to vote for a person on the basis of other issues, the "issue" of running for a higher office doesn't actually matter. The way to beat an incumbent is to expand the voters participating who feel negative about the incumbent, or to change the opinion of the voters who previously felt good about the incumbent. If the same people who previously voted in the incumbent show up with the same positive feeling, then the incumbent is going to win.

But there is no mass movement of voters who reject elected officials who seek higher office. Massachusetts has a history of senators and governors seeking higher office, and the voters never punished them for it. John and Edward Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, Willard M. Romney and John Kerry were all elected to office with the full knowledge they were taking a "hard look" at running for president.

I could even make the argument that people are more inclined to vote for a person who is being seriously mentioned as a presidential candidate. The fact that a local elected official is being considered as a serious candidate for Commander in Chief means they are considered a serious and accomplished leader. It isn't always true that they are a serious and accomplished leader, but that message is being communicated by the media, and in some cases, the political opponent of the moment.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is running for president and it won't change a single vote against her in Massachusetts. In fact, it may swing a few undecided folks her way. If I was on her team, I would use the issue to compare her to JFK, and Donald Trump to Nixon.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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