After his swearing-in ceremony and a hectic day on the Senate floor, Ed Markey finally had a chance to celebrate his new job Tuesday night. But, to be honest, he looked a little shell-shocked.
“This is how people who went to a Jesuit college look happy,” he insisted, finally breaking into a smile.
“Senator! Sen. Markey!” cheered guests as he arrived at the Kalorama home of Democratic doyenne Esther Coopersmith. “Oh, boy,” said Markey, donning his suit jacket to move through the room, kissing cheeks and embracing friends and supporters (Heather Podesta, Calvin Cafritz, Norm Ornstein): “Thank you all so much.”
More than many House members, Markey has been a popular figure on the Washington social scene because, well, he’s been entrenched in this town for so long — 37 years in Congress. His wife, psychiatrist Susan Blumenthal, was a U.S. assistant surgeon general; the couple have been regulars on the charity gala/cocktail party circuit for more than two decades.
This particular party was more than three decades in the making: After passing up earlier runs for the upper chamber, the Massachusetts Democrat, 67, grabbed the chance to replace John Kerry in a special election last month; suddenly, he’s a junior senator. Despite so many years in elected office, Markey has always been a little surprised at his own good fortune: A son of a milkman making it to Congress, and now the Senate.
“My husband has gone from being Clark Kent to Superman in my eyes,” said Blumenthal. “I think he’ll be a wonderful senator. As a doctor, I think he’s genetically hardwired for politics.”
The celebration was hosted by Coopersmith, a lifelong friend of the couple who threw Markey a high-profile fundraiser last month with Joe Biden and Al Gore – but not the candidate himself, who was stuck in Boston for a debate. “Life is good,” Coopersmith told us. “This is really, really exciting.”
Markey was more subdued. “This is a very humbling day for me, to be honest with you,” he said in brief remarks to the room. He cast his last vote in House Thursday against the farm bill, and cast his first as a senator Tuesday to confirm Richard Cordray as director as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Markey said he received a warm welcome from his new colleagues because so many are his old colleagues: He already served with 51 current senators when they were in the House. “I share all of your goals in ensuring that gridlock ends, but at the same time I will not compromise on principles. That’s how Ted Kennedy and John Kerry showed the institution can work.”
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