Attorney General Martha Coakley this morning picked up nomination papers to run for the Senate seat of Edward M. Kennedy, becoming the first candidate to throw a hat in the ring for what promises to be a fierce five-month-long race.
Coakley's nascent campaign picked up the documents from the secretary of state's elections division. She now needs to gather 10,000 certified voter signatures to qualify for the Dec. 8 Democratic primary. Those signatures must be submitted to city and town election officials for certification by Oct. 20.Coakley has been quietly been putting together her Senate campaign over the past year, but has yet to announce officially. She has told associates she will run for the seat even if a Kennedy family member enters the race. Joseph P. Kennedy II is said to be eyeing the race; people close to the family have said the late senator's wife, Vicki, is not interested in the seat. Three members of Congress -- Edward J. Markey, Stephen F. Lynch, and Michael Capuano -- are also considering running.
In addition, Gloucester attorney Ed O'Reilly said in an email to Globe that he is ''seriously considering" entering the race. O'Reilly unsuccessfully challenged Senator John F. Kerry in last year's Democratic primary. He got 31 percent of the vote. He said he will make a decision after Labor Day.
Potential Republican candidates include former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey, state Senator Scott Brown of Wrentham, and former US attorney Michael Sullivan.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, whose name has not graced many lists of would-be candidates, saw fit today to reassure supporters he was focused on his work at the State House.
"In the past few days I have received words of encouragement from many supporters suggesting that I consider running for the United States Senate seat vacated by the unfortunate passing of Senator Edward Kennedy," Murray wrote to backers. "While I am extremely grateful for the support, I want you to know that I remain focused on continuing my work as lieutenant governor, working with Governor Patrick to help Massachusetts recover from the unprecedented economic challenges we face."
Further, he says, his oldest daughter begins school Wednesday, and "my wife and I have agreed that our focus needs to remain on our family and helping our daughters succeed."
On the beat
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