If Kerry bolts, do Dems have a replacement?

Massachusetts political watchers have had their eyes on John Kerry’s Senate seat for nearly a decade now. At first, the seat was going to open up when Kerry cruised past George W. Bush and into the White House in 2004. After that fell through, there was speculation that Kerry would fill a cabinet post in President Obama’s first term; the State Department wound up going to Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates got to keep Defense, and the frustrated Democrats standing in line behind Kerry got to bide their time some more.

Now, with Kerry once again in the running to parachute into a cabinet post, the chatter surrounding Senate succession plans has taken an unexpected turn. Democrats aren’t asking themselves who among them will get to inherit the Senate seat; they’re wondering whether any of them can capture it.

Even before Obama’s reelection, speculation was swirling that Kerry could succeed Hillary Clinton atop the State Department. It has only picked up since then, with Sen. Lindsey Graham telling the Post that the woman presumed to be Obama’s first choice for State, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, “would have an incredibly difficult time” winning confirmation. And the Washington Post reported this weekend that Kerry may be a top choice to take over as Secretary of Defense. There may be several dominos falling around the Pentagon, as the adultery scandal surrounding CIA Director David Petraeus spreads to the upper ranks of the military.

Outgoing Sen. Scott Brown is waiting in the wings, should Kerry get the nod for either post. The Globe’s Glen Johnson has argued that Brown already had one eye on Kerry’s seat, even as he was defending his own seat against Elizabeth Warren. Despite losing to Warren by 8 points last week, and despite the nasty, negative tack his campaign against Warren took, Brown remains personally popular with Massachusetts voters. Brown clearly has his eye on another run for office, and he’s making a point to remain in the public eye.

Beyond Gov. Deval Patrick, who has repeatedly insisted that he won’t leave the Corner Office early, state Democrats don’t have an obvious candidate who could inspire confidence against Brown. That’s doubly true because of the compressed nature of special elections. Warren toppled Brown with a ferocious ground game, but such operations require time and money, and special elections seldom afford candidates the luxury of either. The New York Times notes today that the White House has concerns about the ability of Massachusetts Democrats to beat Brown in a special election. The airing of such concerns looks like a clear public signal to partisans in the state: Show us a candidate who can hold Kerry’s seat, or keep cooling your heels in line behind him.

                                                                                –PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

Legal experts say the new medical marijuana law could conflict with internal anti-drug policies of employers, who are not required to accommodate employees who have a prescription for pot.

Gov. Deval Patrick has a full plate of work to do here in Massachusetts if he chooses to stay.

A Boston Herald editorial argues that the controversy swirling around the New England Compounding Center shows the downside to the Legislature’s refusal to update the state’s corporate manslaughter penalties.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Governing examines the formation of MassINC’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute.

Hanson police are expected to seek charges against an angry resident who violently flipped a table over onto the chairman of the Board of Health during a raucous public meeting.

A Plainville liquor store owner tries to gin up business by arguing that President Obama’s reelection just killed America. He insists the sign outside his store — “My country was born in 1776, it died on November 6, 2012” — was “not [the store] taking a political stand.”

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Jed Babbin, an undersecretary of defense under the elder George Bush, writes in the American Spectator that Gen. David Petraeus’s affair while head of the CIA is the least of his transgressions. Many of the twisting roads that led to the Petraeus affair wound through Harvard’s Kennedy School. The BBC reports that another general is caught up in the scandal for sending tens of thousands of inappropriate emails to the “second woman” in the Petraeus affair. As a result, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta puts the promotion of Gen. George Allen on hold, Time reports.

The National Review gives credit to President Obama’s policies that have produced anemic economic growth, saying that’s done more to curb illegal immigration than any crackdowns by conservative Republicans.

A Texas secession petition garners enough votes on the White House website to prompt an official response, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The federal flood insurance program is back on the rocks.

ELECTION 2012

Time tallies up the winners and losers of the election, just as CommonWealth did last week.

In case you missed it on Sunday on Keller@Large, state Democratic Party chairman John Walsh reviews the results of last week’s crushing sweep by his party’s candidates at all levels and the prospects for replacing Sen. John Kerry if he’s tapped for a position in the Obama administration.

Is the bloom off the rose at The Shawmut Group, the Boston political consulting shop that went 0-for-2 in its recent work for Mitt Romney and Scott Brown?

The New York Times goes inside the Obama data-mining machine, in which better information about TV viewers’ politics helped the Democrats overcome a GOP advertising onslaught.

Forget the auto bailout: Obama may have won Ohio because of anger over voter ID laws.

New York magazine argues that Obama just won a class war. The magazine also shunts Romney offstage thusly: as a candidate in love with America, terrified for its future, and relegated to its past.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Robert Pozen, the Boston businessman who contemplated a Senate run against Scott Brown, raps the SEC for suing JP Morgan over the crimes of a firm the bank bought at the depths of the financial crisis.

CHARITY

A review by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that market investments by most endowments had paltry returns for the second year in a row.

HEALTH CARE

Federal investigators find more problems at Ameridose, the Westborough-based affiliate of New England Compounding Center.

Metro areas of eastern Massachusetts have the highest rates of drug-related emergency room visits in the US.

TRANSPORTATION

The Globe looks at the challenges facing Tom Glynn, the new head of Massport.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The New Bedford City Council will consider an “environmental justice” ordinance that would require developers to prove before receiving a permit that their projects would not have adverse effects on surrounding communities.

Chatham looks at three proposals to deal with great white sharks next summer; The Cape Cod Times favors the one that would stress guarding a small portion of the town’s Lighthouse Beach.

Domestic oil production from shale could make the US the world’s top oil producer by 2020.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

For WBUR, Judy Foreman examines the clinical research on whether a sex change operation would help convicted murderer Michelle (formerly Robert) Kosilek.

A Brockton man says he’s still waiting for answers from police about what happened when a drug suspect fleeing from officers slammed into his wife’s car and killed her.

Police in Lawrence are investigating what appears to be the poisoning of eight cats over the last two weeks, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

A triple shooting right outside the apartment of state Rep. Carlos Henriquez in Dorchester puts a neighborhood on edge.

MEDIA

The Beat the Press panel reviews the legacy of Boston Globe editor Marty Baron as the rumors persist that his departure to take over The Washington Post is imminent.

The sex surrogate played by Helen Hunt in the new movie The Sessions is based on Cheryl Cohen Greene, who grew up in Salem, the Salem News reports.