Even though Mass. Sen. John Kerry has not yet resigned his position in the Senate after his recent nomination for Secretary of State, the seat, which will be filled after a special election later this year, has generated a long list of potential candidates.
Once Kerry officially resigns, the Governor must call an election within 120 days after the event occurs. An interim senator will fill the vacancy until a new one is elected, said David Palmer, professor of political science at Boston University.
“He [John Kerry] has not yet resigned, but the governor is assuming he will resign permitted that everything goes through the Senate properly,” Palmer said. “So he [Patrick] is stringing together a list of people to consider appointing to the position.”
Former Congressman Barney Frank has been the only person to publicly seek the interim position.
“[Frank] tends to be a polarizing figure, and that could be a problem for people, and [Patrick] might be embarrassed about him lobbying for the position,” he said, “I’m not sure it will happen. He would be a good candidate and he made it clear that he would not run for the seat.”
Kerry was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State on Dec. 21. The Senate has to approve the nomination before a special election becomes necessary to fill his seat.
Coming off of a loss to Elizabeth Warren in the November election a few months ago, Scott Brown is likely to be the Republican candidate for the seat, said Tim Buckley, spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Party.
“He [Brown] certainly has a lot of fans that would like to see him take another run at it,” Buckley said. “We see folks and they ask how they can contribute and volunteer for a campaign that hasn’t even started yet.”
However, Brown might consider running for governor when that position becomes available.
If Brown decides not to run, Dr. Keith Ablow, a Fox News contributor, said he would consider running for Senate.
“I am considering it and I am considering it much more seriously when it is clear that [Former Mass.] Governor [William] Weld and Scott Brown have decided not to pursue it. That is the point I would seriously decide,” Ablow said.
Ablow said it is important for the Republicans to be as strong as possible when it comes to this election and not be strained by a primary.
For the Democrats, only Congressman Ed Markey has confirmed that he would run for the seat once everything has gone through for Kerry’s nomination.
Markey’s campaign was not available for comment.
Kevin Franck, a spokesman for the Mass. Democratic Party, said he expects Scott Brown to run for the seat, but is confident that Democrats will keep Kerry’s seat blue.
“We are ready for Scott Brown this time and we are happy to beat him again if he decides to run,” he said.
Buckley said a contentious Democrat primary would give the upper hand to Republicans in the election.
Franck said he expects democrats to hold a primary, but said it would not hurt the party’s chances of securing Kerry’s seat.
“Although Scott Brown is well known, having a primary allows the people to learn about the Democratic Party and see what the candidates have to say,” Franck said. “We will remain focused on beating Scott Brown after the primary is over.”
Both Congressman Michael Capuano and Congressman Stephen Lynch have also considered running for the seat, which would require the Democrats to hold a primary.
However, Tuesday, Capuano released a statement saying he would not seek the seat.
“After careful consideration, I have decided not to enter the race for U.S. Senate. Instead, I look forward to focusing on the important issues facing the new Congress,” he said in the statement. “My current work in the House and whatever opportunities the future may hold, afford me the greatest honor of my life, fighting for the Citizens of the Commonwealth.”
“I am giving serious consideration to a run for the United States Senate and am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received in recent days,” Lynch said in a statement. “As we await Senator Kerry’s confirmation hearings, I will continue to weigh my options and decide the best way to serve our communities.”
State Sen. Benjamin Downing was also considering running on the Democrat ticket, but decided not to, according to a statement Friday.
“I have spoken with family, friends and colleagues throughout the state about a possible run for the U.S. Senate,” he said.
Downing said many considerations, including finances, swayed him not to run.
“After considering every aspect of a possible campaign, I have determined that I will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in the upcoming special election,” he said in the statement.
Douglas Kriner, professor of political science at BU, said with the balance of partisan power in the Senate so close, every seat for the political parties count.
“Special elections tend to be quite different from normal Senate elections,” Kriner said in an email. “[There is] no doubt the Republicans will smell blood in the water. Similarly, Democrats will be pulling out all of the stops to try to keep the seat.”