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President Obama will soon nominate John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, according to ABC News, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and many, many more. Which seems like a no-brainer — Republicans indicated a newfound love for "Mr. Secretary" as they were forcing out Susan Rice for the position, and Kerry is already defending the State Department at this week's hearings on the Benghazi attacks, with few other contenders in sight.

But what happens to Kerry's empty Senate seat? In the (likely) event Kerry is picked to head Foggy Bottom, Massachusetts would hold a special election late next spring or early summer — until which the office would be held down by a person chosen by the Commonwealth's current governor, Deval Patrick.

(Who will take the interim spot remains a mystery. Michael Dukakis, floated by The Hilldenies he is interested in the spot. The Weekly Standard brought up Vicki Kennedy — the widow of Ted Kennedy — but acknowledged her lack of political involvement.)

Forget Cory Booker. Here are the contenders for the next Senate race that's actually happening:

Scott Brown

Brown, as you'll remember, lost his seat to Elizabeth Warren on November 6 following a preposterously nasty campaign involving attack ads questioning Warren's Native American heritage (and, during one rally, Brown staffers openly mocking it). Still, Brown remains popular among Massachusetts voters, according to a poll conducted by Boston's WBUR, which says "Brown is in a strong position should there be a special election to fill U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s seat." More, an Emerson College poll released today shows that 38% of Massachusetts residents believe Brown will succeed Kerry — the largest portion recorded for a single candidate.

Odds: High. Really high.


Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy Jr.

The son of the late senator Ted Kennedy has been approached by Democratic party operatives and encouraged to run in the special election, according to the Boston HeraldThe Boston Globe explains why:

A special election campaign by Edward Kennedy Jr. would avoid any criticism that [Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick] was trying to help the family by appointing a member to the Senate.

Odds: Unknown. Wait for the announcement, if there is one. But he could give Brown a run.


Ben Affleck

Yes, the film actor. Affleck grew up in Cambridge (he was born in Berkeley, California) and recently testified before Congress about the U.S.'s role in Congo, where he's traveled extensively. CBS Boston was the first to float Affleck's name for the run, after which the story continued to pick up steam, until Affleck issued a non-denial to Politico. But Movieline, which probably has more authority here than all of the Beltway press combined, isn't buying it

Will it actually happen? Probably not. Though Affleck wouldn't be stepping into the kind of minefield Ashley Judd would if her rumored interest in running for the Senate in Kentucky turns out to be real, the potential to be slandered as another Hollywood dilettante is high.

Odds: Low. Quite low. Even so, as our own Richard Lawson put it yesterday, "he'd have to start scrambling to reclaim his Masshole identity pretty quickly. Boy's been out in Lalaland for quite a while now."

Everybody Else

The Hill reports that three congressmen — Mike Capuano,  Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey — are interested in running. The only problem: according to WBUR, the Boston radio station, they don't  measure well against Scott Brown, who continues to enjoy remarkably high favorability rankings in Massachusetts.

Odds: low, but not as low as Affleck's. None of them possess the stature of Brown — who, let's remember, is still a senator. He just ended an high-profile race, and it's not like he's written off running for office again. "If there’s anything my life has taught me," Brown wrote in a recent column for the Globe, "it’s that there’s always a second chance."

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