GOP Sen. Brown still waiting for first Dem challenger in old Kennedy seat

Massachusetts Democrats seem to be in no rush to launch their bids to unseat Sen. Scott Brown (R).

None of the party's potential contenders have declared their intention to run, despite the first-term Republican's status as a top target for Democrats next year.

Some noted the election is almost two years away, giving them plenty of time to mount an aggressive challenge. But the longer Democrats wait to get into the race, the more time Brown has to cement his position, GOP strategists say.

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Brown has a well-stocked campaign war chest and is one of the most popular politicians in the state, according to recent polls. Democrats looking to defeat him will have to erase his money advantage and chip away at his popularity, which could take time.

"Scott Brown's very popular; he's a celebrity," said Alan Khazei, a potential Democratic challenger. "He's raised a ton of money from some very powerful special interests. So he's in a strong position, there's no doubt about it."

After finishing third in the Senate primary in December 2009, Khazei said he's considering making another run, but he doesn't feel pressure to rush into the race.

"There's plenty of time," he said. "I did a campaign from scratch in 90 days. I did much better than people expected me to do.

"It's almost two years until the [next] election. It's 18, 19 months till the primary. It's very early," said Khazei, a social entrepreneur well-known for co-founding City Year, a youth service organization.

Brown has taken a similar approach and hasn't started actively campaigning.

"Right now Sen. Brown is focused on doing his job as senator and supporting pro-growth policies that will get our economy back on track and put people to work," said Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for Brown. "There will be plenty of time for politics later."

Republican strategists say any delay to the start of the campaign season in Massachusetts works in Brown’s favor.

"If I were him, I would just continue doing what I’m doing and not be in any rush to talk about reelection," said Kurt Luidhardt, a Republican strategist who worked with Brown in 2009.

He noted Brown entered 2011 with some $7 million banked for his reelection effort.

"If you're an unknown entity, you need to get your name out, but Scott Brown is the exact opposite," he said.

One concern Democrats have about an early start to the race is that it will lead to a bruising primary fight. Some Massachusetts House members, such as Michael Capuano, Stephen Lynch and Edward Markey, are considered potential candidates, as is former Rep. Joseph Kennedy. Others from outside government being mentioned as contenders include Vicki Kennedy and investor Robert Pozen.

Gov. Deval Patrick (D), however, seems to have ruled himself out: He insisted this week he would remain focused on his day job through 2014. The Democrat, who won a surprise reelection victory in November, told The Associated Press on Tuesday he will not run for another office next year, regardless of the opportunities available.

That might benefit Khazei, who calls Patrick a friend and "a great role model."

"He's shown how if you run a grassroots campaign, if you stand by your convictions, if you emphasize the positive, that will be rewarded," he said.

Khazei said he hadn't been in touch with Patrick about getting the governor's support for a possible Senate bid. "I don't think that he's really focusing on politics right now," he said.