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Who’ll fill Kerry Senate seat? Question answered, but only for now.

Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick names a former aide, William 'Mo' Cowan, to fill the Kerry seat until a special election in June. Two House Democrats are girding for battle, as is the GOP's Scott Brown.

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William 'Mo' Cowan (l.) smiles as he is introduced by Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick during a news conference where he was named interim US Senator for the seat vacated by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., at the Statehouse in Boston, Wednesday.

Charles Krupa/AP

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The governor of Massachusetts has appointed a former member of his staff to fill the US Senate seat that’s being vacated by John Kerry (D), but a longer term question looms: Who will voters choose just a few months from now to occupy that post?

It may boil down to a choice between three men, two Democrats and one moderate Republican, who are already familiar with the halls of Congress.

Mr. Kerry, a Vietnam veteran and former presidential candidate, is leaving the Senate to become secretary of State during President Obama’s second term in office.

For now, the Massachusetts seat will be held by William “Mo” Cowan, who stepped down in November as Gov. Deval Patrick’s chief of staff after previously serving as his legal counsel. In naming the interim senator, Governor Patrick followed a course he chose when another Massachusetts Democrat, Ted Kennedy, died in office: filling a Senate slot with someone who pledges not to run for permanent election.

That leaves the field open for what promises to be a lively contest, culminating in a June 25 vote.

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