If Ben Affleck were to take leave of his senses and declare a serious interest in running for John Kerry‘s soon-to-be-vacated Massachusetts Senate seat and really go for it, he’d probably land the Democratic nomination. He’s up on the issues, talks a good game and has an obvious brand-level magnetism (i.e., that Robert Redford-as-Bill McKay quality) that no other Massachusetts Democrat could compete with. And he’d probably beat presumed Republican candidate Scott Brown.

But with Affleck’s directing career (Argo, The Town, Gone Baby Gone) in a boom cycle, running for the Senate would be a step down. He’s obviously well positioned to remain a top-ranked hyphenate (and perhaps even move beyond his current status as the new Sydney Pollack) for the next 25 to 30 years. So why lower himself into the swamp of politics, especially given the fact that even if Affleck wins this year he’ll have to re-run in 2014 to keep the Senate seat?

Three months ago (i.e., 9.15) Affleck talked to a GQ writer about a possible political future. Here’s a pertinent portion:

“There was one time where somebody who I respected said ‘come do this right now, I think you can win.’ And I just realized when I got asked that question that it was the last thing I wanted to do. Plus, I kind of felt like I just got past all this bile in my own life” — a reference to his Bennifer period — “and then you’re going to just jump back into this ugliness? I mean, talk about long knives. It’s horrendous way to live. You know, your family and blah blah blah. I guess I lost a little bit of that idealism. I don’t know.

“So, no, the answer is: I don’t want to run for office. And I don’t even like working in partisan politics. People get so wound up and so ugly now. I find that doing things that are independent where you can really actually make a difference, where you can affect policy, you can affect change, means more than doing the partisan political thing.”

Then again in a less than 48-hours-old interview with CBS NewsBob Schieffer, Affleck said he was too busy at the moment to really consider the Massschusetts situation, but he didn’t issue a Shermanesque denial either. “I do have a great fondness and admiration for the political process in this country,” Affleck said, “but I’m not going to get into speculation about my political future. One never knows. I’m not one to get into conjecture.”

In other words, Affleck been a political-issues junkie for much of his life and is no doubt flattered to hear such talk being kicked around, and so he’s kind of half-winking for the time being. But it’ll probably go no further than that.