Prominent Democrats in Washington and Massachusetts are promoting Edward M. Kennedy’s widow as the best shot for winning back his Senate seat.

She passed up the chance to run for the seat last year. Now, nearly a year after her husband’s death, Victoria Reggie Kennedy has been, in many ways, already acting the part of a candidate by campaigning for other politicians and appearing at events nationwide, despite her playing down the idea of her challenging Sen. Scott Brown (R) for the seat in 2012. She passed up the chance to run for the seat last year.

Some party leaders have been quietly promoting her candidacy, including Sen. Charles E. Schumer(D-N.Y.), according to some sources.

Vicki Kennedy, who comes from a powerful political family in Louisiana, is a lawyer who married into the Kennedy dynasty in 1992. According to some close to the Kennedy clan, the prospect of her candidacy is becoming a source of family tension to relatives who fear her campaign would distract from her late husband’s legacy.

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), the youngest of Edward Kennedy’s children, said in an interview he wished his stepmother would focus on raising money to build the endowment of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate, a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire future leaders.

He said: "As a politician, it's not as if I don't get frustrated by seeing the opportunities missed in the last year for amazing events with this president, this speaker and others who have demonstrated their willingness time and again to honor Dad's legacy. You know the phrase, 'You make hay while the sun shines?' This was the year to do it."

Vicki Kennedy said did not see herself running for her husband's seat, but she also didn’t not rule it out.

"When you get into that level, of really thinking about really living his life, that's a step that's just, just too hard," she told Boston Glove Magazine.

Yet her late husband encouraged her to run, she said.