Benjamin Jealous, as the president of the NAACP, speaks during a National Press Club luncheon on Aug. 29, 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Benjamin Jealous, the former president of the NAACP, has told friends and supporters in Maryland that he is thinking about running for the U.S. Senate seat that Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) will vacate in 2016, according to two people with knowledge of these conversations.

“It’s in the very early stages,” said a close friend who has discussed the idea with Jealous and spoke on the condition of anonymity in discussing the private conversation. “He’s reaching out to supporters, donors, you name it, to see if there’s a path to victory. It’s early but it’s serious.”

Jealous, 42, joins a long list of Democrats who are interested in Mikulski’s seat — including seven of the state’s eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and former lieutenant governors Anthony G. Brown and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Rep. Chris Van Hollen was the first to announce that he will run for the seat.

[Rep. Chris Van Hollen says he will run for Mikulski’s Senate seat in 2016]

On the Republican side, Rep. Andy Harris, former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and former lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele are being discussed as possible contenders.

Jealous is a Rhodes scholar with degrees from Columbia and Oxford universities who has worked as a journalist, community organizer and activist in New York and California, among other places. At 35, Jealous became the youngest-ever president of the NAACP and led the organization from 2008 to 2013. He was known for getting a younger generation of activists involved, leading state-level campaigns and challenging the tea party. Jealous is also a regular guest on cable news shows.

Jealous lives in Maryland and is a partner at Kapor Capital, a venture capital investment firm based in Oakland, Calif., that focuses on start-ups that have the potential to better society by closing inequality gaps or streamlining inefficient processes.

Reached Friday, Jealous declined to comment.