Essdras M. Suarez/ Globe Staff
Somerville resident Robert Massie has already said he's going to seek the Democratic nomination to run against Senator Scott Brown next year, and this past week, backers of City Year co-founder Alan Khazei filed papers with the IRS to form a campaign exploratory committee on his behalf.
Meanwhile, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll continues to weigh the balance between work and family, questioning whether she can make the commitment to a campaign while both leading a city and serving as mother to three young children.
And then there is Newton Mayor Setti Warren, who is impersonating his former boss, Senator John Kerry, by preparing to campaign while saying he is not.
Back in 2001 and early 2002, Kerry said his only focus was on getting re-elected during the fall of 2002. That he made the comment during visits to Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early presidential-voting states prompted questions about the sincerity of the statement.
The senator ended up with a free pass in the 2002 election, propelling him into a 2004 presidential campaign that resulted in him becoming the Democratic presidential nominee but losing the election to the Republican incumbent, President George W. Bush.
Throughout that effort, Warren served as Kerry's trip director. He was in charge of keeping the trains running on time and making sure Kerry got to where he needed to be. After the campaign, Warren did a stint in Kerry's Boston office before heading overseas on a military deployment. In 2009, he won his his first campaign for elective office.
Now, after little more than a year as mayor of Newton, Warren is weighing a challenge to one of the hottest commodities in the US Senate, Brown himself.
Brown's surprise win the January 2010 special election to replace the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy has heartened longshots everywhere. That the lowest-ranking member of the minority party of the Massachusetts state Senate could suddenly become the make-or-break vote in the upper chamber of the US Congress is already the stuff of political legend.
Brown went from nobody to everyman in less than three weeks, riding a post-New Year's poll showing him running strong all the way to a victory on Jan. 19, 2010.
Guided by savvy advisers, he also stopped blowing money when he had ample advertising and it became clear he was going to win, seeding a warchest for the true test: winning re-election to a full term in 2012. Brown now has over $7 million in the bank, and the book tour to promote his new autobiography, "Against All Odds," is being used to introduce him to potential Republican backers across the country.
The recent video showing him hitting up billionaire David Koch for a donation belied Brown's claims that he won't be politicking until next year. As he told Koch on the hidden-camera video, "I'm in cycle right now. We're already banging away."
By some estimates, Brown may spend $25 million on his campaign.
Last month, Governor Deval Patrick revealed Warren was more than considering a race, saying the mayor was "in, for sure," along with Khazei.
That forced Warren to at least acknowledge he was considering a race, but also to temper any actual commitment to running. Last week, the dance continued, as he showed up for President Obama's speech at TechBoston Academy, only to bob-and-weave afterward about whether Obama had asked him to challenge Brown.
He ultimately said they discussed a race, but the president did not ask him to run. Then, two days later, Warren renewed speculation by using his very public Twitter account to criticize one of Brown's Senate votes.
Over the weekend, Gintautas Dumcius of the Dorchester Reporter had an intriguing story saying a political consultant had sent an e-mail saying she may be staffing a Warren campaign by the end of April.
On one level, it's hard to envision Warren having much of a shot against the Brown juggernaut. Warren is barely 40 and has only one year in office to his credit. Brown is over 50 and served in Wrentham town government before working his way up to the state House of Representatives and state Senate.
While members of the Tea Party lament Brown's move to the middle, there are plenty of Republicans nationally who love the idea that their party holds Ted Kennedy's former seat. They show their affection with donations to Brown.
A poll just released by Western New England College found 52 percent of respondents felt Brown should be re-elected. It also showed him leading Warren head-to-head by a margin of 51 percent to 34 percent, as well as over another potential challenger, Representative Michael Capuano, by 51 percent to 38 percent.
(The telephone survey of 472 registered voters, conducted March 6-10, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.)
Yet on another level, Warren's backers see a potent challenger.
Warren has proven an adept campaigner at multiple levels, winning election as class president at Newton North High School as well as his alma mater, Boston College. He has worked in federal office as both a Senate staffer and the New England director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
While Brown touts his service as a JAG officer in the Massachusetts National Guard, Warren can match it with his tenure an an intelligence officer in the US Navy Reserve. And when it comes to deployments, Warren can do one better: He did a year deployment in Iraq, a US combat zone, while Brown has not.
And though they don't publicly state it, Kerry, Patrick, and other Warren supporters make note of a simple fact: Warren is an African-American.
There currently are none in the US Senate. It's an omission they believe Massachusetts Democrats may want to address.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.