BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Deval Patrick is preparing to announce as early as Wednesday who will temporarily fill U.S. Sen. John Kerry's seat until a special election can be held on June 25.
Patrick said he's all but made up his mind on the interim senator.
"Pretty much. I have one or two other questions to ask," Patrick said when asked about the special election on Monday. "We'll be ready."
Patrick also said that he has yet to inform his choice of his decision.
"We're going to make those calls when it's closer to the time," Patrick said.
Among those mentioned as possible interim senators are Michael Dukakis, the former governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee; Victoria Kennedy, widow of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy; and former Democratic congressman Barney Frank.
Patrick has declined to confirm any potential candidates except Frank, and only after Frank publicly said he was interested in the job and had spoken with Patrick.
Patrick said he'll name someone who "will be a wise steward of the interest of the people of the commonwealth," until the special election can be held. The primary is set for April 30.
Kerry was expected to be confirmed by the Senate as the nation's new secretary of state on Tuesday, sparking the third Senate contest in Massachusetts since the 2010 special election to fill the seat left vacant by the Kennedy's death.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said he was told by Senate officials that Kerry will submit a letter of resignation Tuesday, effective Friday. That would set the clock ticking on the special election.
Galvin said he's ready to immediately release nomination papers. Candidates will have four weeks to collect the 10,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot.
Kerry's office has declined to comment on the timing of his resignation.
On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Edward Markey has already announced he will seek Kerry's seat, and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch is weighing a run.
Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who won the 2010 special election for Kennedy's seat but lost a re-election battle last year, is considering a campaign on the Republican side, but hasn't yet indicated if he'll run again or not.
Galvin said he would have preferred to hold the special election on June 18, before voters start leaving the state to go on summer vacation. He also said it could be less expensive because many school buildings would still be open.
But Galvin said he supports Patrick's decision.
"It's the governor's call and he's made it," Galvin said.
Galvin said the election is expected to cost several million dollars.
Also Monday, Edward Markey publicly challenged all Democratic and Republican candidates who might jump into the special election to agree to keep outside groups from spending money on political ads. Markey said the race should focus on "big issues and ideas, not big-money outside groups."
Markey said he wants a deal similar to the so-called "people's pledge" agreed to by Brown and Warren in last year's Senate race. That deal successfully discouraged outside political groups from spending money on television, radio and Internet ads, although they did spend millions on campaign mailings, phone banking and other get-out-the-vote efforts.
Despite the pledge, the race ended up being one of the costliest in the nation last year and by far the most expensive campaign ever in Massachusetts.
Kerry has represented Massachusetts in the Senate for nearly three decades.