The state's third U.S. Senate election in four years could officially begin this week if , as is expected, John Kerry is confirmed to become the nation's next secretary of state.

Kerry's confirmation is expected this week and would require him to resign from the office he's held for nearly three decades.

At that point, Governor Deval Patrick would have to set the date for a special election 145 to 160 days after Kerry's resignation. That would place the election during this summer.

Patrick will also have to name an interim appointee to serve temporarily in Kerry's seat.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey has already announced he will seek the seat. Fellow Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch is also considering a run and could make an announcement this week.

In addition, former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is considering running on the Republican side.