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Might Ben Affleck try leap from Hollywood to US Senate? So far, he's cagey.

The actor and director says he's 'happy being involved from outside in government.' But Ben Affleck didn't exactly put the kibosh on talk about a possible run for John Kerry's Senate seat.

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There's Sonny Bono, the musician and actor who was elected mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., before twice being elected a US congressman. And Fred Thompson, best known for his role on TV's "Law & Order," and who played a US president three times in his acting career. Thompson served in the US Senate for eight years and later ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. Clint Eastwood's career as an elected official has been confined to two terms as mayor of Carmel, Calif. But he made bigger political news this year when, during the GOP convention to nominate Mitt Romney, he gave an odd – and widely criticized – speech to an empty chair.

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Staff writer

Amanda Paulson is a staff writer based in Boulder, Colo.

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Jesse Ventura, the actor and professional wrestler who became Minnesota's governor, eschewed both Democrats and Republicans, running first as the candidate of the Reform Party of Minnesota (he later switched to the state's Independence Party).

Democratic actors who make the move from entertainment to political office are fewer, with Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota as the most prominent. A former SNL comedian and talk-show host, Senator Franken barely eked out a Senate win in 2008 in a hotly contested election.

Talk of Affleck as a candidate may be simply a combination of wishful thinking by media pundits and Democrats worried that Senator Brown needs a high-profile opponent.

Among other hurdles, it's unclear why Affleck would want to leave a successful career as both a filmmaker and actor. Having directed three critically acclaimed movies – and considered a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination this winter – Affleck finally seems to have laid to rest the embarrassment of past films like "Gigli" and "Surviving Christmas."

A move to Congress – where approval ratings haven't hit 25 percent in three years, and more often are stuck below 20 percent – would hardly be a reputation-builder. 

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