Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is publicly seeking a temporary appointment to the U.S. Senate after Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is expected to be confirmed as secretary of state, is backing Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in a likely special election for the seat.

"Ed Markey should be and will be the next senator. Frankly, Ed and I have worked together in Congress and, before that, in the Legislature," he said Wednesday on MSNBC's "The Last Word." "And I would like to think of this as something of a kind of a relay team.” Frank praised Markey as a "leader in gun control when we were in the Legislature together in the 1970s" in a WBUR interview.

Frank is campaigning to be appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to the Senate seat, a move that has united progressives. He has said that he will not run in the special election, which would likely occur in early summer.

The attention that Frank is commanding is said to have startled Markey, who is not as well-known.

Frank, on MSNBC, dismissed the view that he shouldn't announce his desire publicly for the appointment as "junior high school stuff."

Frank announced that he would not run for another term in November 2011, and said a reconfigured district made him unlikely to run for reelection. He blamed Markey for not appealing enough to state legislative leaders to save his district.

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