By running for Senate, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III has touched off a scramble for his House seat with potential candidates frantically preparing to run.

Most are declining to say anything formally until after Kennedy officially enters the Senate primary race against fellow Democrat Sen. Ed Markey on Saturday.

But, they are reaching out to party activists to let them know they will be in the race as soon as possible and are hiring campaign staffers.

The list of those running on the Democratic side appears to be long, with a heavy concentration of candidates from the Brookline-Newton area.

The Republican side is shaping up as a lot less crowded.

State Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but he also said he would wait until after Kennedy speaks this weekend to decide.

“I’m friends with Joe, so out of respect for him I’m not going to say anything about me or my future plans until after he announces,” Dooley said.

“Not that I would steal his spotlight by any stretch of the imagination, but I just kind of feel it is the right thing to do.”

Dooley’s Statehouse district includes the Republican towns of Norfolk, Wrentham and Plainville, right in the heart of the 4th Congressional District.

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Paul Feeney, D-Foxboro, has said he might consider a run, but is saying nothing for now.

State Rep. Tommy Vitolo, D-Brookline, told The Sun Chronicle said he is “certainly considering it,” and is weighing the various factors that go into a race, including how his family feels about it.

He said he expects to make a decision quickly.

State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, a Democrat, has taken the most definitive step toward running by filing paperwork to create a campaign committee.

The only statewide official considering a run, Goldberg would not have to give up her position as treasurer because she is not up for re-election for another two years.

“The treasurer is still considering how she can best serve voters,” Samantha Dallaire, spokeswoman for Goldberg, said in a prepared statement.

“As we have said, Treasurer Goldberg is in a decision-making process that involves talking to friends, family and advisers,” she said. “This week she has had productive conversations with leaders and activists across the 4th Congressional District and will continue to do so.”

Democrat Jesse Mermell, who worked as communications director for Deval Patrick when he was governor, has stepped down from her job as president of Alliance for Business Leadership to prepare a run.

A Brookline resident, she is also waiting for Kennedy’s announcement before getting into the race.

Newton City Councilor Rebecca Walker Goldman said she is seriously considering running for the seat.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a former candidate for governor, has been mentioned as a possible candidate but he could not be reached for comment.

State Sen. Becca Rausch, D-Needham, has already said she will not run for Kennedy’s seat.

With so many candidates from the northern end of the district, a divided vote there could create an opening for someone in the southern end, from a community such as Fall River, Taunton or Attleboro.

Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux, however, said he is only focused on getting re-elected as mayor in November.

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitics.

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