VICKI KENNEDY LENDS ANOTHER HAND IN MASS…. While the Kennedy family remained neutral during the Senate primary and much of the election process in Massachusetts, last week, Vicki Kennedy, Ted Kennedy’s widow, appeared publicly to endorse Martha Coakley’s (D) campaign. With the outcome in doubt, Kennedy is lending a hand again today, writing a fundraising letter for the Democratic candidate, less than week before the special election. It reads in part:

“Throughout my husband Ted’s life, you were always there for him, for me and for the entire Kennedy family. We are tremendously grateful for your friendship and support in the past, and we ask you to stand with us now to support Martha Coakley in the crucial race to fill Ted’s remaining term.

“This Tuesday, January 19 everything is on the line. The people of Massachusetts will decide who will be their next Senator, and we need Martha Coakley.

“The importance of having a voice and a vote that you can count on in Washington has never been more evident than during this ongoing health care debate. And we’re going to need every vote again.

“Ted fought for national health care reform for 40 years. He believed that every American deserved their chance at the American dream, but that as long as an illness or preexisting condition could bankrupt an American family, that great goal could never become a reality. We need Martha Coakley to continue our shared fight for national health reform, to reduce costs for businesses and families and increase coverage in Massachusetts and throughout this country. This race will be very close and we need you to get us to victory.

We have just 6 days to do the hard work of electing Martha Coakley so that we can continue the agenda that Ted made the fight of his life — reforming health care, ensuring equality and justice for all, protecting our seniors, and rebuilding our economy to allow everyone to prosper. That fight for working families cannot stop — not now, not when so much is at stake for Massachusetts and America. And that’s why I’m asking you to ensure that we are victorious this Tuesday.” [emphasis in the original throughout]

Sources tell me that the response to the Kennedy letter from donors has been very strong. A “Win This For Teddy” theme may be one of the more powerful messages available under the circumstances, especially when it comes to the Democratic base.

It’s taken a while — perhaps too long, and perhaps it’s too late — but there’s ample evidence that progressives are fully engaged in the Massachusetts race. It didn’t seem necessary up until quite recently, but with so much on the line, and with the right playing to win, the left finally seems to be going all in. That’s evident with the Kennedy letter, the new SEIU ad, the AFL-CIO mailing, and the Democratic establishment (DSCC, Kerry, Bill Clinton) all approaching the special election with new urgency.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.