Gov. Deval Patrick likes the idea of a Democratic primary in the anticipated special Senate election to fill John Kerry's seat if Kerry is confirmed as secretary of state.

Patrick told reporters Thursday that he also anticipates more Democratic candidates getting into the race.

So far Congressman Ed Markey is the only announced Democratic candidate. Former Sen. Scott Brown is weighing a run on the Republican side.

Other possible Democratic candidates, should Kerry step down, include U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch and state Rep. Ben Downing.

Some Democratic activists hope to avoid what they fear could be a divisive and expensive primary campaign.

They point to the successful election of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who avoided a primary challenge and went on to unseat Brown last year.