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.
The passage of the bill kicks into overdrive speculation about whom Governor Patrick might appoint to fill Kennedy’s seat.
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.
Governor Dukakis has long been involved in Massachusetts state politics. He served as a state representative from 1962 to 1970 and governor from 1975 to 1979 and again from 1983 to 1991. He ran as the Democratic candidate for president in 1988, losing to George H. W. Bush. Most recently, he’s been a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston.
Dukakis is also appealing because he maintains a strong following of older Democrats in the state, according to Mr. Payne. Patrick could have this in mind as he considers his re-election bid and his suffering popularity in the state.
Patrick will also be taking into account candidate’s federal political credentials and ability to contribute to the healthcare reform debate, says Stephen Ansolabehere, professor of government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
Other candidates could include:
• Kennedy’s former chief of staff Nick Littlefield.
• Former state Treasurer Shannon O’Brien.
A wild card choice could be someone with tied to the healthcare system in the state – like the head of one of Boston’s major hospitals, says Professor Ansolabehere. Despite a lack of political experience, they could make sure the state’s unique healthcare needs are represented in the national reform debate.
The bill won approval by a slim 24 to 16 margin Tuesday after Senate Republicans used procedural tactics to delay debate for two days.
Election laws “should never be changed on a whim,” said Sen. Scott Brown (R), who is a candidate in the special election and has been a vocal opponent of the bill. He accused Democrats of wanting “a rubber stamp in Washington” to approve healthcare reform, climate change, and immigration legislation.
Democrats stressed the need for two voting senators with the Senate’s full calendar this fall and to serve constituent cases.
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