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Departure would spark new Senate race

  • Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., stands by as President Barack Obama, not seen, announces his nomination of Kerry as next secretary of state in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

    Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., stands by as President Barack Obama, not seen, announces his nomination of Kerry as next secretary of state in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., stands by as President Barack Obama, not seen, announces his nomination of Kerry as next secretary of state in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

    Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., stands by as President Barack Obama, not seen, announces his nomination of Kerry as next secretary of state in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., stands by as President Barack Obama, not seen, announces his nomination of Kerry as next secretary of state in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
  • Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., stands by as President Barack Obama, not seen, announces his nomination of Kerry as next secretary of state in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

If Kerry is confirmed by the Senate, he would have to resign the office he’s held for nearly three decades — touching off another round of political dominoes in a state that spent much of the year hosting one of the hardest-fought Senate races in the country.

The list of potential candidates to replace Kerry is long.

On the Republican side, Sen. Scott Brown would immediately become the front-runner if he decides to run. He lost a re-election campaign last month to Democrat Elizabeth Warren but remains popular and still has his political organization intact.

Brown, who is returning to Massachusetts to attend his father’s funeral on Monday, has yet to say whether he will run. If he doesn’t, other possible GOP candidates include former Gov. William Weld and former gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker.

There’s no clear front-runner on the Democratic side.

The names of possible contenders that have been tossed around include Reps. Michael Capuano, Edward Markey, Stephen Lynch and Niki Tsongas. Others mentioned as potential candidates are U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, Pittsfield state Sen. Ben Downing and Ted Kennedy Jr., a son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

One prominent Democrat pulled her name out of contention on Friday.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who ran for the Senate in the 2010 special election and lost to Brown, says she won’t be a candidate this time around.

“I love my job as attorney general, and will not run for the vacant Senate seat,” Coakley said in a one-sentence statement.

Under state law, Gov. Deval Patrick must schedule a special election within 145 to 160 days of Kerry’s resignation. He must also name an interim senator to fill Kerry’s seat until voters decide the winner of the special election.

The Democrat said he’s begun talking to potential candidates to fill the seat on a temporary basis, although he wouldn’t reveal the names of those he’s considering, saying the conversations are being held in confidence. He said he’s looking for someone who would take on the role of senator “in the spirit of John Kerry.”

“I have had already a number of inquiries from people who are interested in the interim appointment,” Patrick told reporters Friday. “There are some pretty compelling candidates.”

The governor said he expects that anyone he appoints on an interim basis will not be a candidate in the special election, although he did not say whether he would exact a pledge from his interim appointment not to run.

Patrick got such a pledge when he appointed former Democratic Party chairman Paul Kirk to temporarily fill the Senate seat left vacant by Kennedy’s death in 2009.

Immediately following Obama’s announcement, accolades began pouring in from both sides of the political aisle.

Warren, who could soon be the state’s senior senator, said that while Kerry’s confirmation “will be a loss for Massachusetts, it will be a tremendous plus for the United States and the world.”

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino called Kerry “an outstanding senator who has worked tirelessly for the citizens of the commonwealth and the residents of Boston,” while Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Kerry exemplified “the best qualities of public service.”

Massachusetts House Republican leader Brad Jones praised Kerry’s long record of public service, calling him a “distinguished United States veteran” and an honorable individual.

Patrick reiterated on Friday that while he would prefer to be able to name an interim senator who would serve until the end of Kerry’s term in 2014, he does not anticipate any changes to the state’s succession laws, which have been changed twice in the past decade by Democratic lawmakers.

“They have no appetite in changing the law and I have no appetite in proposing a change in the law,” Patrick said Friday.

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Obama nominates Kerry for secretary of state

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, one of Washington’s most respected voices on foreign policy, as his next secretary of state. The move is the first in an expected overhaul of Obama’s national security team heading into his second term. As the nation’s top diplomat, Kerry will not only be tasked with executing the … 0