- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ashley Judd is reportedly considering a run for the Senate, so why not Ben Affleck?

The tall, dark and handsome Hollywood Democrat is being mentioned as a potential successor to Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, the president’s nominee to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of State.

Mr. Affleck, 40, downplayed speculation Sunday on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation,” saying, “I’m not one to get into conjecture.”

“For one thing, the state of Massachusetts currently has two extraordinary senators, so there’s no vacancy,” said Mr. Affleck. “I do have great fondness and admiration for the political process in this country. It’s a big deal for me to come down here and be on your show that I watch so much — but I’m not going to get into speculation about my political future.”

The actor, who won an Academy Award with Matt Damon for best screenplay in 1997, is known for his Boston-based roles in films such as “Good Will Hunting” and “The Town.” He’s not exactly a native — he was born in Berkeley, Calif. — but he moved to Massachusetts when he was young and maintains a home there and in Los Angeles.

If Mr. Kerry’s nomination is confirmed as expected by the Senate, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick would appoint a successor to fill the seat pending the outcome of a special election. Under state law, the special election must be held within 145 to 160 days of the vacancy.

Mr. Patrick told reporters Friday that he would prefer to appoint an interim senator who would not run for the seat, citing the difficulties of campaigning and raising cash while carrying out Senate duties.

The possibility of a special election next year has drawn interest from Republicans and Democrats alike in the state.

On the GOP side, outgoing Sen. Scott P. Brown left the door open to another run for the Senate after losing last month to Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

“The candidacy is his for the asking,” Rep. Brad Jones, the Republican leader in the Massachusetts House, told The Associated Press. “If he runs, then get out of the way and put your oar in the water and row in the same direction.”

The fight on the Democratic side, though, could be a free-for-all. Besides Mr. Affleck, Democrats are talking about Reps. Michael E. Capuano, Edward J. Markey, Stephen F. Lynch, and Niki Tsongas. There is also buzz about U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Edward M. Kennedy Jr., a son of the late senator.

Mr. Affleck has been more active in U.S. politics than most Hollywood stars, mainly by campaigning for Democrats, including Mr. Kerry, Mrs. Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore. He supported President Obama in the last election.

His latest film, “Argo,” recounts U.S. intelligence efforts to rescue embassy personnel taken hostage after the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979. Mr. Affleck, who directed and starred in the film, told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that the film was dedicated to Foreign Service workers and added that he would support military action against Iran.

“We have to have a line beyond which we say, this is not acceptable in Iran,” said Mr. Affleck in the Oct. 10 interview. “I wouldn’t oppose military action, but the question is, where the line is. And I certainly wouldn’t make the line public, and I wouldn’t be backed into the line.”

Mr. Affleck also said he had met former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and called him “a very nice guy, very pleasant guy.”

In his Sunday remarks, Mr. Affleck said he’s busy with his work on behalf of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and with promoting “Argo,” noting, “I’ve got a lot on my plate.”

“I like to be involved,” he said. “Right now I’m really happy being involved from the outside in government, advocating for the Congolese, taking this movie I made, “Argo.” It’s really become a springboard for dialogue about our relationship with Iran, which as Hillary Clinton said, is our most pressing foreign-policy issue today.”