Daniel Doherty

“I love Massachusetts and our political process,” actor/director Ben Affleck wrote on his Facebook page two days ago, “but I am not running for office:”

Ben Affleck is taking his name off the list of possible candidates for U.S. Sen. John Kerry's seat, which would be open if the Democratic senator from Massachusetts is confirmed as secretary of state.

Affleck says in a Monday posting on his Facebook page that while he loves the political process, he will not be running for public office.

Speculation about the Cambridge, Mass., native rose slightly when he did not completely rule out a Senate bid during an appearance on CBS' Face The Nation on Sunday.

In his Facebook posting, Affleck says he would continue working with the Eastern Congo Initiative, a nonprofit organization that helps direct humanitarian aid to the war-torn region, and for other causes.

Affleck says Kerry would make a great secretary of state.

This is good news for outgoing Senator Scott Brown; Affleck’s celebrity status and widespread name recognition would almost certainly have given Democrats an advantage. Now, however, it seems there are at least three reasons why the lame-duck senator has a golden opportunity to return to the upper chamber: (1) his favorability rating is nearly 60 percent, (2) he likely won’t face a serious primary challenger, and (3) Democrats must contend with a competitive and perhaps even brutal nomination process, in part because there is no clear front-runner.

On the other hand, the Washington Post’s Mark Horan reminds us that Senator Brown’s return -- while certainly possible -- is not necessarily etched in stone:

...Since Republicans count for less than 12 percent of the state’s registered voters, they need a huge chunk of unaligned voters and maybe a few Democrats to win. With no social issues to fall back on — same-sex marriage has been on the books in Massachusetts since 2004; roughly two-thirds of voters are pro-choice — Massachusetts Republicans seem able to cobble together a majority only in tough economic times.

Which brings us back to Brown. The senator struggled throughout 2012 to find his footing in a gentler, more forgiving political environment. The unemployment rate in Massachusetts had dropped to 6 percent as the summer began (and is even lower in Greater Boston), and the mood in the Bay State had turned sunnier: A Suffolk University poll in October found 63 percent of the electorate saying the state was on the right track, a 30-point turnaround from the Brown special election.

These concerns notwithstanding, Senator Brown has the benefit of canvassing and competing in two high-profile statewide elections. Plus, one of the major reasons he lost his bid for re-election -- if not the reason -- was because Democrats (unsurprisingly) showed up in droves to re-elect the president. (That will not be the case this time around, for obvious reasons). Furthermore, a lower Democratic turnout -- especially in a deeply blue state like Massachusetts -- only benefits the GOP. This is why one can’t help but feel somewhat optimistic; Republicans -- at least for the moment -- seem almost poised to pick up another seat in the upper chamber sometime next year.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography