Ted Kennedy starts talking about his replacement

The veteran senator wants Massachusetts' governor to be given the power to appoint his successor

Published August 20, 2009 3:55PM (EDT)

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., doesn't want his state left with only one vote in the Senate for months in the event of his death. That's what he said -- implicitly, though not explicitly -- in a letter he sent recently to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, along with leaders in the state's legislature.

In the letter, Kennedy asks for a change in the state law governing the way Massachusetts handles any Senate vacancies. Under the current law -- passed when Democrats were worried that then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, would get to appoint a replacement for Sen. John Kerry, who was running for president -- there'd be a special election held within five months of the seat opening up.

"I strongly support that law and the principle that the people should elect their Senator," Kennedy says in his letter. "I also believe it is vital for this Commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election.

"I therefore am writing to urge you to work together to amend the law through the normal legislative process to provide for a temporary gubernatorial appointment until the special election occurs."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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