Another contender for Kennedy's seat

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) became the second candidate to begin preparing the necessary papers to run for Senate on Friday, according to a spokesman for his state's top election official.

Lynch, who represents South Boston, joins Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) as the only two major candidates making public moves to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D). Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, said about 20 people overall had requested the necessary paperwork.

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A Lynch spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Coakley on Thursday announced she would run to replace Kennedy. Lynch has only requested the appropriate paperwork to begin gathering signatures. Candidates have to collect the signatures of 10,000 registered voters by Oct. 20 in order to secure a spot on the Dec. 8 primary ballot.

Several other candidates are still considering their options. Former Rep. Marty Meehan (D), who left Congress to become chancellor of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, still has $4.8 million in the bank and has said he is considering a bid. Former Rep. Joe Kennedy (D), the late senator's nephew, has $1.76 million left over from his own career.

A few of Lynch's House colleagues, including Reps. Michael Capuano and Edward Markey, are also considering a bid. Capuano has said he is unlikely to run if Joe Kennedy, his predecessor in Congress, gets in the race, while many believe Markey is considering the ramifications of giving up a prominent committee chairmanship he won after serving 18 terms in the House.

The race is likely to be an expensive three-month sprint to the Democratic primary. Lynch, who many believe would be a favorite of organized labor, has nearly $1.4 million cash on hand.

Coakley, a rising star in state politics, could attract the support of EMILY's List, the prominent group that aids pro-abortion rights Democratic women with raising money. Coakley and the organization have a pre-existing relationship, and barring unforeseen developments, the group is on track to formalize backing in the coming weeks, according to a source with knowledge of the process.

Capuano and Markey would both be strong competitors as well. Capuano had $1.2 million in the bank at the end of June, while Markey held nearly $2.9 million in reserve.

Spokespeople for Capuano and Markey did not immediately return e-mails seeking comment.

The winner of the Dec. 8 primary will face off with the winner of the Republican primary on Jan. 19. Though several names have been floated, including ex-Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R), no prominent Republicans have made their intentions clear.