Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is the front-runner in her party's race to fill the late-Edward Kennedy's vacant Senate seat, a new poll finds.

More than one-third of likely Democratic voters in Rasmussen's September survey signaled their support for the attorney general, the first lawmaker to solicit papers for the race. About a quarter of respondents, however, said they were not yet sure who they would select, which somewhat tempers the potency of Coakley's early lead.

Trailing her with just 7 percent support is Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), who picked up his papers yesterday. And merely 3 percent of polled voters said they would back Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), who is still pondering his primary bid.

But as both parties' candidates prepare for the fast-approaching Dec. 8 primary, Massachusetts' state lawmakers are still debating whether to grant interim Senate appointment power to the governor.

Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) are among many vocal supporters of reversing current law, which state lawmakers approved in 2004 to prevent then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) from replacing Kerry in the event he won the presidency. But it is unclear whether the state legislature will grant Kennedy's new request, made in the weeks before his death. A hearing on the proposal is scheduled for today.

The public seems pretty torn on the matter too: More than half of respondents in a previous Rasmussen poll said they would prefer their governor to appoint a placeholder until January's special election. Forty percent opposed the idea.