Veteran Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., became the first candidate to declare for Sen. John Kerry’s seat Thursday with a statement to the Boston Globe.

Kerry has been nominated for secretary of state and is expected to win easy confirmation from his colleagues. The special election to fill Kerry's seat will likely take place in June.

“I have decided to run for the U.S. Senate because this fight is too important,” Markey told the Globe. “There is so much at stake.”

In his statement, Markey outlined some of the issues, including energy and an assault weapons ban, that he intends to campaign on:

“With Senator Kerry’s departure, Massachusetts voters will decide once again whether we want a senator who will fight for all our families or one who supports a Republican agenda that benefits only the powerful and well-connected,” Markey said. “I refuse to allow the Tea Party-dominated Republican Party to lead us off the fiscal cliff and into recession. I won’t allow the NRA to obstruct an assault weapons ban yet again. I will not sit back and allow oil and coal industry lobbyists to thwart our clean energy future or extremists to restrict women’s rights and health care.”

Markey, 66, was first elected to the House in 1976 and is the dean of the Massachusetts delegation.

Reps. Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch are two other Democrats who have publicly expressed interest in seeking Kerry’s seat. Ted Kennedy Jr., son of the late senator, was mentioned but said he won’t run, as did actor Ben Affleck. Running in a special election is a low-risk venture for House incumbents; if they lose they would still be members of Congress and able to run for re-election in 2014.

Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, will appoint a temporary senator to fill the seat after Kerry is confirmed to his new job. Patrick has said he favors appointing a “caretaker” who will not run in the special election, and retiring Rep. Barney Frank has been mentioned as a possibility.

Markey will not ask for the appointment, a person familiar with his decision told the Globe.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who just lost his seat to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in November, is the leading potential GOP candidate. Brown, who won his seat in the 2010 special election after Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died in office, has not said if he will run again.

Markey begins the race with about $3.1 million in his campaign account, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.