U.S. Sen. John Kerry is launching a farewell tour of Massachusetts today before formally stepping down from the office he's held for nearly three decades to become secretary of state.

Kerry will start the tour with a visit to the YouthBuild USA office in Springfield  before stopping in Worcester to thank local residents during an event at Holy Cross college.

Kerry winds up his "thank you" tour at Boston's Faneuil Hall where he'll meet with constituents before delivering a farewell address at 6 p.m.

Kerry was first elected in 1984.

On Wednesday January 30th, Kerry gave a farewell speech to fellow lawmakers in the Senate chamber.

He became emotional when he tapped on his desk and remarked that it had been used by both John F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy

As Massachusetts' newest U.S. senator settles into his temporary job in the post previously held by Democrat John Kerry, attention is turning to a special election this summer when voters will pick Kerry's successor.

Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick appointed his former chief of staff, William "Mo" Cowan, on Wednesday to the seat left vacant when Kerry was confirmed as the nation's next secretary of state.

Already a race for the seat is shaping up.

Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who lost his Republican re-election bid to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in November, is "leaning strongly" toward running.

Democratic Congressman Edward Markey of Malden has announced his bid for the post. And Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch of Boston is expected to announce his candidacy during a tour Thursday of the state.