President Obama's decision to pluck Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts from the Senate to be his new secretary of state sets the stage for a comeback by departing GOP Sen. Scott P. Brown, even before he leaves office early next month.
It also may give Victoria Reggie Kennedy the chance for at least temporary membership in the club where her late husband, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, served for nearly half a century. It could even give Edward Kennedy Jr., the senator's son, a chance to follow in his father's footsteps, if rumors of his interest in serving full time prove true.
And it almost certainly sets off a political brawl among a half-dozen Democrats, many of them current House members, for the chance to serve in the majority, as opposed to remaining one of 435 House members and languishing in the minority.
Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to announce very soon a date for a special election to replace Kerry as well as a pick for a caretaker to serve for a few months until the winner of the special election is sworn in.
Patrick has been contacted by several people and met a few weeks ago with Victoria Kennedy, according to a Democrat with knowledge of the meeting. Kennedy was not interested in running for a full term for Senate, this person said, but was "very open to the idea" of serving as a placeholder. Patrick also spoke with Michael Dukakis, the former governor and presidential candidate, but he had no interest in either being a caretaker or running for a full term.
If the Democrats cannot agree on a consensus candidate to run, the aspirants will face off in a primary, which would be held about six weeks before the special election.
Brown, who lost his seat last month to Elizabeth Warren, is already the consensus Republican candidate if he wants to run.
In a poll released Thursday, WBUR, the Boston NPR affiliate, found Brown leading some of the likely Democratic candidates by at least 17 percentage points. It did not test him against Edward Kennedy Jr.
But Brown has not said explicitly whether he would run; he is expected to make an announcement soon.
If he decides to compete, it would be his third statewide race in four years.
Some supporters have suggested he might be better off running for governor in 2014, in part because Massachusetts voters seem more comfortable with Republicans if they are not beholden to an ideological agenda in Washington.
Another consideration is that after the last election, some Republican money may have dried up.
"The Republican money guys are dead tired and don't want another race," said Rob Gray, a Republican strategist.
NEW YORK TIMES