Middlesex County District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. is giving “serious consideration’’ to running in the special US Senate race to fill John Kerry’s seat, he confirmed Saturday.
Leone, 50, said he has received encouragement from friends and political allies to jump into the Democratic primary campaign – a race that already has two Massachusetts congressmen, Edward J. Markey and Stephen P. Lynch, battling for the party nomination. The primary will be held April 30.
“People I have a great deal of respect for have asked me to look at the race,’’ Leone said. “I will give it serious consideration, but my intention, as I announced last month, has always been to leave electoral politics.’’
Leone, a former federal and state prosecutor who handled several high-profile cases prior to becoming district attorney, last month announced he would not seek a third term as district attorney in the 2014 elections and had decided to leave public service.
“I am not running for another elective office,’’ Leone said at the time. “In fact, I intend to leave government service when I leave this office.’’
Leone’s entry into what many thought would be a two-person race would spark a major shift in the campaign, crowding the Democratic field. Like Lynch, he would have to run without the political backing of the Democratic establishment that Markey has already secured.
But Leone’s roots in Middlesex County could be a significant factor. The sprawling region stretches from the eastern Merrimack Valley and New Hampshire border towns to Cambridge and Somerville and west to Newton and Framingham.
Leone, who easily won election in 2006 and reelection in 2010, is well known in the county, which could help him win support.
About one third of people who will vote in the Democratic primary live in Middlesex County.
With Markey and Lynch’s campaign operations already established, Leone will face heavy pressure to make up his mind in the next few days. He must collect 10,000 certified voter signatures over the next four weeks to qualify for the primary ballot.