US Representative Edward Markey picked up two critically important endorsements and received strong praise from US Senator John Kerry for his candidacy to fill Kerry’s seat, in what appears to be a coordinated effort by party leaders to close ranks behind the congressman.

The moves by both Kerry, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of state, and the national Democrats to try and shape the race is a clear sign that the national party leadership is sending a message to other potential Democratic candidates to stay out of the campaign.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic leadership’s organization that raises fund and provides support for party candidates around the country, issued its endorsement of Markey just a day after he became the first and still the only candidate to join the race.

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The DSCC’s unusual decision to quickly take sides in the race came just minutes after Kerry issued an highly unusual statement, in which he said he supports Markey’s decision to seek his Senate. He heaped strong praise on the Massachusetts congressman, but stopped short of an outright endorsement of his candidacy. Still, an aide to the senator confirmed that Kerry would vote for the congressman to be the Democratic nominee in a special election.

Within minutes after Kerry’s statement was released, Victoria Kennedy, the widow of the late senator Edward M. Kennedy, threw her support to Markey, using much of the same language that Kerry used in his statement.

Other members of the all-Democratic state congressional delegation are also considering a run. They include Michael Capuano of Somerville and Stephen Lynch of South Boston.

There is much concern by Democratic leadership that outgoing US Senator Scott Brown, in a low-voter turnout special election, has a good chance to win the seat. Brown, defeated by Democrat Elizabeth Warren in an election with heavy Democratic turnout, was able to emerge from the tough campaign with a strong favorability rating among voters still intact.

Kerry, who is likely moving into a sensitive, nonpolitical position, issued a carefully worded statement today.

“While I began last week to formally step out of politics and it’s very important that I respect the apolitical nature of the post I hope to soon occupy, as Massachusetts’ senior senator today and as a colleague of Ed Markey’s for 28 years, I’m excited to learn of and support his decision to run for the United States Senate,’’ Kerry said in a statement released by his office.

The senator’s flattering words about Markey are atypical of Kerry, who has not often involved himself in party primary battles.

Kerry said the 66-year-old Markey, a member of the House since 1976 and dean of the state’s delegation, is “one of the most experienced and capable legislators in the entire Congress.’’

“...it would be an almost unprecedented occasion for such an accomplished legislator to join the Senate able to hit the ground running on every issue of importance to Massachusetts,’’ Kerry said.

He strongly applauded Markey’s 36-year congressional record, saying he has been on the cutting edge of a host of important issues.

“Ed’s someone who authored and passed a visionary energy bill to deal with climate change; he’s one of Congress’ foremost experts on the Internet, telecommunications and new energy economies; he was a leader on nuclear weapons issues; and he’s the House’s leading, ardent, and thoughtful protector of the environment,’’

“He’s passionate about the issues that Ted Kennedy and I worked on as a team for decades, whether it’s health care or the environment and energy or education,’’ he said.

Markey himself forwarded Kerry’s statement shortly after it was issued, adding: “Massachusetts voters are facing a critical decision about whether we continue John Kerry’s tireless fight for the middle class or if we abdicate more power to the special interests. We must not turn back now,” Markey wrote. “That’s why I want to continue this fight for the values and priorities that will move our state and nation forward and carry on John Kerry’s legacy of leadership in the Senate.”