BOSTON (AP) — The race for the House seat being vacated by U.S. Sen.-elect Edward Markey is heating up.
Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, in a video posted online and emailed to supporters, formally announced plans Monday to run in the anticipated special election in the state's 5th Congressional District.
Koutoujian, a Democrat, served in the state House of Representatives before being appointed to fill a vacancy in the sheriff's office in 2011. He was elected a year later.
Later Monday, state Sen. Karen Spilka of Framingham was scheduled to formally announce her candidacy. Fellow Democratic state Rep. Carl Sciortino of Medford declared his candidacy last week.
Two other Democrats — state Sens. Katherine Clark of Melrose and William Brownsberger of Belmont — are also campaigning for the seat.
One Republican, attorney Frank Addivinola, also has jumped in the race, sending out an email to supporters last week announcing his candidacy.
Brownsberger and Sciortino have challenged the other candidates to take the so-called "People's Pledge" designed to discourage outside groups from launching negative campaign ads.
Markey won a special election last week to succeed John Kerry after Kerry resigned to become secretary of state. Markey is expected to be sworn in later this month.
Markey's resignation will start the clock ticking on the special election to fill his House seat. That election will take place between 145 and 160 days later. The first hurdle facing candidates is to collect the signatures of 2,000 Massachusetts voters needed to get on the ballot.
There's no shortage of hopefuls for the seat Markey has held for 37 years. The district includes a number of cities and towns to the west and north of Boston, including Framingham, Waltham, Medford and Malden.
In his video, Koutoujian described himself as "just a kid from Waltham" whose grandparents on his father's side fled Turkey during the Armenian genocide. He worked as a prosecutor in the Middlesex District Attorney's office before being elected to the Massachusetts House in 1997. He later became sheriff.
During his time in the House, Koutoujian said he worked on health care, public safety and victim's rights.
"My focus has always been on both the major challenges facing our state and just as importantly the issues that aren't being talked about every day, but touch people in their everyday lives," he said in the video.
Spilka said in an email to supporters that she "smashed through our online fundraising goal."
"I am extremely proud of the campaign team we've assembled," she added.
Addivinola acknowledged the difficulties Republicans face in Massachusetts and said his goal is "to connect with the voters in the district and clearly communicate to them that the Republican Party is the party of working people, that the Republican Party is the party that will protect the middle class."
In last year's U.S. Senate election, Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren agreed to a "People's Pledge" that discouraged outside political groups from launching television, radio and Internet ads.
In the just-completed special U.S. Senate election, Markey and fellow congressman Stephen Lynch also agreed to the pledge during the Democratic election. Republican Gabriel Gomez declined to sign the pledge.
Those running for Markey's seat should accept the pledge, Brownsberger said in a statement, adding that "money has become a deeply corrupting force in politics, when the focus should be on tackling the hard issues."
One would-be candidate who's decided not to run is former Democratic state Sen. Warren Tolman, who briefly considered jumping into the campaign.
"I believe in public service, but now's not the right time for me and my family," he said.
Sunday was also the end of the latest fundraising period. The totals, which have yet to be posted, will help give an early indication of which candidate has the largest political reach.
Whoever wins the seat will face re-election again next year.