Massachusetts Moving On Kennedy Replacement

08.31.09 | FL News Team

(Boston, MA)  --  Massachusetts lawmakers will hold a public hearing September 9th to discuss whether to change state law to allow for an interim appointee to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy.  The veteran Democrat died last week at the age of 77 after a year-long battle against brain cancer.

Democratic Governor Deval Patrick supports the change in state law since a special election cannot be held for several months.  Patrick announced January 19th as the date for a special election.  The winner of that election will fill out the remaining two years of Senator Kennedy's term.  

Governor Patrick said the U.S. Senate faces important votes on critical issues in the months ahead and he argued that Massachusetts deserves to have two representatives in the Senate.  Kennedy's seat gave Democrats a 60-vote majority in the Senate, just enough to defeat Republican filibusters.

In a letter to Massachusetts lawmakers before his death, Senator Kennedy requested a change in state law to allow for the appointment of an interim successor.  If the state law is changed, Patrick said he would seek a pledge from potential interim appointees that they would not run in the special election.  He said it's too early to publicly discuss a possible appointee.

Changing the law at this point is controversial, because it was Democrats who established the special election system in 2004. At the time, Senator John Kerry was running for president and then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, was in a position to appoint his successor.

Massachusetts House Republican Leader Brad Jones tells FOX News that while he fought for the appointment power before, changing the rules now would leave a "bad taste" in the mouths of voters.