Senator John Kerry’s nomination to become secretary of state will set off a flood of political activity in Massachusetts, as numerous politicians consider a run for his seat.
State law requires Governor Deval Patrick to appoint a temporary successor, once Kerry is confirmed by the Senate. An election would then be held between 145 days and 160 days after that.
Senator Scott Brown, the Republican who lost an election last month to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, is the most prominent person believed to be interested in running. He has hinted strongly that he would like to return to the Senate. If he decides against a run, former Governor William F. Weld could emerge. He has said he is unlikely to run, but has not ruled it out.
The Democratic field is more wide open. Several members of the House delegation have expressed interest, including Steve Lynch of South Boston, Michael Capuano of Somerville, and Ed Markey of Malden. State Senator Ben Downing of Pittsfield has also said he would likely enter the primary if Kerry departs.
Others mentioned included Victoria Kennedy, Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s widow, and Edward Kennedy Jr., the late senator’s son, who lives in Connecticut. But because there is no clear frontrunner, others may emerge. Even Ben Affleck, the Hollywood actor, has been floated.
Patrick has not said who he might appoint as a temporary replacement. That decision will be significant. If he appoints a potential candidate, that person could have some of the advantages of incumbency, though he or she would also be burdened by the responsibilities of government. Patrick has said that he expects to appoint someone who promises not to run, as he did in 2009 when he appointed Paul Kirk to replace Ted Kennedy.