WASHINGTON (CNN) - Chris Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, is taking steps to run for Senate and could announce his candidacy as early as next week, a source close to the Kennedy family told CNN Wednesday.
"He is building an organization and telling family and friends that he is in fact going to be a candidate for the Senate from Illinois," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity this person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
A spokeswoman for Chris Kennedy, an Illinois businessman, would not go as far as to say he is in the race, but acknowledged that he is "seriously considering" a Senate bid.
"He has conducted polling which indicates a strong interest," said Kasey Madden, Kennedy's spokeswoman. "But there is no timeline for a decision or an announcement."
But a second source, an Illinois Democrat also speaking on the condition of anonymity, told CNN that Kennedy's political allies are telling state Democrats that he will indeed seek the Democratic nomination for the seat once held by President Obama.
Sen. Roland Burris, a Democrat and former state attorney general, was appointed to fill Obama's unexpired term by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But Burris never received the backing of state and national Democratic leaders because of his ties to Blagojevich, who has since been impeached.
Should Burris seek to run for his own six-year term next year, he would likely face additional primary opposition as a handful of state and congressional Democratic lawmakers are also said to be eyeing the race.
If elected, Chris Kennedy would follow in the footsteps of his father, Robert, who represented New York in the Senate before being assassinated in
If he were to win the seat, Chris would not be the only Kennedy on Capitol Hill. His cousin is Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-Rhode Island; his uncle is Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts.
Another cousin, former President John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline, unsuccessfully lobbied New York Gov. David Paterson this year to be appointed to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, which she gave up when she joined the Obama administration as Secretary of State. Caroline Kennedy withdrew her name from consideration before Paterson chose Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand for the vacancy.
Chris Kennedy's brother, Joe, served as a Massachusetts congressman for several terms before retiring in 1998.
Chris Kennedy is currently the president of Merchandise Mart in Chicago.