BOSTON -- Former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan is kicking off what he's calling "a grass-roots effort" to collect the signatures needed to get on the Republican primary ballot for the state's special U.S. Senate election.

Sullivan said in a statement Thursday that for the past 10 days he has been giving serious consideration to entering the race to replace John Kerry, who left the Senate to become U.S. secretary of state. He said he wants to see if he can collect the required 10,000 voter signatures before the Feb. 27 deadline using volunteers instead of paid signature gatherers.

Also Thursday, Republican businessman Sean Bielat filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to form the Sean Bielat for Senate committee. Bielat did not immediately return requests for comment Thursday, but he told New England Cable News he was still weighing a run and was "very much in the exploratory phase."

Norfolk state Rep. Daniel Winslow and Cohasset businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez already have announced they're running on the Republican side.

Sullivan served as Plymouth district attorney before being named U.S. attorney for Massachusetts in 2001 by former President George W. Bush. He was appointed acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in 2006. From 1991 to 1995, he served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.


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