In the few days since John Kerry resigned to become Secretary of State, five prominent Republicans have passed on the chance to run for his seat in a June 25 special election.

On the Democratic side, two well-known lawmakers, Rep. Ed Markey (D) and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D), have launched their bids, setting up an April 30 primary.

Why the cold feet among Republicans?

One reason is timing. The candidate who wins in June will have to quickly gear up to run again in 17 months, when Kerry would have been up for re-election.

Another reason is the strong and heavily financed Democratic field of potential candidates who could run either this year or next.

But Massachusetts voters famously bucked their Democratic tradition a few years ago and elected Scott Brown (R) to fill the vacancy left by the death of legendary Sen. Ted Kennedy (D). It was a groundbreaking election and made a genuine difference in the power Republicans could wield in facing President Obama.

This time around, the only two Republicans exploring the chance are little known state Rep. Dan Winslow (R) and unknown venture capitalist Gabriel Gomez.

The fact that not a single prominent Republican is willing to take a chance at running for an open Senate seat is shocking.

It's embarrassing.

And it’s another sign of the disarray the party finds itself in after a string of tough election losses in 2012.