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(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Now that President Barack Obama has officially chosen John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, all eyes are turning to Kerry’s native Massachusetts. Assuming that Kerry is confirmed by the Senate, which is widely considered a foregone conclusion, Republicans feel they will have a golden opportunity to capture Kerry’s seat and cut into the Democrats Senate majority.

The reason? Soon-to-be-former senator Scott Brown, who remains quite popular in Massachusetts and leads early polling of the upcoming special election.

As Brown found out in November, however, it takes more than goodwill for a Republican to win statewide election in the Bay State. Massachusetts is one of the most liberal states in the country, and whoever wins the Democratic nomination for Senate will have a great chance of winning the general election. Several high-profile Democrats are already rumored to be interested in running, and more are likely to signal their intentions in the coming days.

Here are six Democrats who could be Massachusetts’ next U.S. senator:

Victoria Reggie Kennedy

Vicki Kennedy, widow of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, is a prominent Massachusetts political figure in her own right. According to the Boston Globe, Kennedy has already discussed a temporary appointment to the open seat with Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, but if she chooses to run for a full term, she would likely start near the front of the pack in the Democratic primary.

Photo by Martha Coakley via Flickr.com
Edward Kennedy Jr.

Ted Kennedy’s eldest son is reportedly considering a bid to continue his family’s legacy in the Senate. Kennedy, who currently runs a health care company, would start with the advantage of sky-high name recognition within the state, but he may have to fight accusations of carpetbagging. Although he owns a home on Cape Cod, Kennedy’s primary residence is in Connecticut. 

Deval Patrick

Patrick, the popular governor of Massachusetts, is widely considered to be the Democrats’ strongest potential candidate; in early polls of the special election, he polls either just behind or slightly ahead of Brown. But Patrick — who is a potential cabinet appointee in the Obama administration and may even seek the presidency in 2016 — may not want to risk a competitive campaign.

Ed Markey

Markey, a progressive Democrat who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1976, has been rumored to run in no fewer than four Senate elections throughout his long political career. In that tradition, Markey told reporters on Monday that he is “seriously considering” a run for Kerry’s seat.

Mike Capuano

Capuano, an eight-term U.S. representative from Somerville , MA, ran in the 2010 special election for Ted Kennedy’s seat only to be defeated by Martha Coakley in the Democratic primary. The outspoken Capuano is a favorite among Massachusetts liberals, but may lack the statewide recognition to survive a crowded primary.

Ben Affleck

Actor, director and activist Ben Affleck has been floated as a dark-horse candidate for the seat. The Cambridge native has been active in Democratic politics for years, and he has the money, connections, and name recognition to instantly turn the race on its head.

After his testimony before Congress about the violent fighting in the Congo, Politico asked Affleck if he was considering a run for Kerry’s seat. “That’s not what I’m here to talk about,” Affleck responded. “I’m here to talk about what role we can play in making the Eastern Congo a better place.”

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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