Scramble is on for Kerry's Senate seat

President Obama’s nomination of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) for secretary of State on Friday will set off a mad scramble — particularly among Democrats — to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat in a special election to be held next year.

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Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who just lost his Senate seat in a nasty election against Elizabeth Warren (D), is widely viewed as the favorite among Republican candidates.

There’s far more intrigue on the Democratic side, where two Kennedys, a Hollywood celebrity and a slew of sitting members of Congress have expressed interest.

Victoria Kennedy, the second wife of late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), has been mentioned as a potential candidate. Her spokeswoman, Debra Reed, told The Hill on Friday that Kennedy had no comment at this time.

And the senator’s son, Ted Kennedy Jr., told the Hartford Courant last month that “maybe one day” he’d consider running for national office. Multiple media reports in the last week have cited an anonymous friend of Kennedy Jr., an entrepreneur and lawyer, as saying he was seriously considering a run.

A spokesman for Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey (D) told The Hill on Friday he is “seriously considering” running to replace Kerry. Two other Massachusetts Reps., Stephen Lynch (D) and Michael Capuano (D), have mentioned passing interest according to various media reports. Neither Lynch nor Capuano returned requests for comment from The Hill.

A spokesman for state Sen. Ben Downing (D) told The Hill on Friday “it’s definitely something he’s considering.” Downing then released a statement congratulating Kerry on his nomination and saying he “will be meeting with people throughout the Commonwealth” as he considers a run.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) has also been mentioned, but she told The Hill late Friday that she's not interested.


"I love my job as Attorney General, and will not run for the vacant Senate seat," her office said in an email.


Of course, the nature of the race would change significantly if actor/director Ben Affleck were to run.

Affleck was on Capitol Hill this week to meet with members of Congress and testify before the House Armed Services Committee about the crisis in the Congo. He was photographed alongside Kerry during the trip and didn’t deny rumors he might attempt to succeed him.

“One never knows,” he told CBS anchor Bob Schieffer.

On the Republican side, Brown has the name recognition and has tried to cultivate an everyman appeal that a conservative candidate needs to win in the liberal Bay State. That wasn’t enough for him to overcome Warren in the 2012 election, however.

Despite his attempt to frame the campaign as a race between a centrist and an extreme liberal, Warren defeated him 56.2 percent to 46.3 percent on Nov. 6. 

There are signs that Brown is continuing his march to the center, perhaps in preparation for another Senate run. On Wednesday, Brown, who was previously against a federal ban on assault weapons, reversed his position.

“What happened in Newtown where those children were subject to that level of violence is beyond my comprehension,” Brown told the Springfield Republican newspaper. 

“As a state legislator in Massachusetts I supported an assault weapons ban thinking other states would follow suit. But unfortunately, they have not, and innocent people are being killed. As a result, I support a federal assault weapons ban, perhaps like the legislation we have in Massachusetts.”

Brown’s father passed away on Thursday, and his office did not return a request for comment.

According to state law, Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) must appoint a temporary successor, and this too, could change the shape of the race.

Spokesmen for retiring Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and John Olver (D-Mass.) declined to comment when asked if they had been contacted by Duval or would consider the interim position, although both seem natural temporary fits.

However, if Duval were to select an interim replacement with permanent ambitions, that candidate may have an advantage in the special election, which will take place about five months after Kerry leaves the seat, if he is confirmed for the State post.

- Updated at 4:43 p.m. 

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