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Kennedy gets wish, Senate seat to be filled soon

The Massachusetts Senate voted Tuesday to let the governor appoint an interim replacement for the late Ted Kennedy. Former Gov. Michael Dukakis is the favorite.

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Mass. Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, R-Wakefield, left, is followed by Sen. Scott Brown, R-Wrentham, as they leave the Senate Chambers after Massachusetts Senate has approved a bill allowing the governor to name an interim replacement for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy at the Statehouse in Boston, Tuesday. Both men voted against the bill.

Charles Krupa/AP

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The Massachusetts Senate voted Tuesday afternoon to approve a bill that would allow the governor to appoint an interim senator to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in Washington.

Senator Kennedy requested the change before his death to ensure that Democrats would have their full complement of senators for the crucial vote on healthcare reform expected later this year.

Without the change, Kennedy’s seat would have remained empty until a January special election. The bill has already passed the House, and Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to sign the bill this week.

The passage of the bill kicks into overdrive speculation about whom Governor Patrick might appoint to fill Kennedy’s seat.

“The safest choice is [former Gov. Michael] Dukakis,” says Dan Payne, a Massachusetts-based Democratic media consultant. “He will see this race as a capstone, not a steppingstone to his career.”

Patrick has previously stated that he will elicit assurances from any candidates for the temporary appointment that they will not run in the Jan. 19 special election – again in accordance with Kennedy’s request.

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